When one player tested positive for Covid 19 in March, the NBA shut down immediately.
That was then. This is now.
The sports leagues are eager to get back to playing, even though they admit some players will test positive.
The NFL is the most vulnerable because it has more players than the other sports.
Dr. Allen Sills, the league’s top medical officer, said in a recent conference call that obviously football and physical distancing are not compatible.
“We fully expect we will have positive cases that arise because this disease is endemic in our society,” he said.
“Our challenge is to identify them as quickly as possible and to prevent spread to other participants,” he added. “Everyone that’s around each other in a football environment is going to share risk.”
Not exactly. The owners won’t be sharing the risk.
And just because the players are young and healthy doesn’t mean they can’t have severe consequences. Just listen to Mara Gay, a member of the New York Times editorial board who wrote about getting the virus.
“The day before I got sick, I ran three miles, walked 10 more, then raced up the stairs to my fifth-floor apartment as always, slinging laundry with me as I went,” she wrote.
Then she got the virus and her life changed.
“The second day I was sick, I woke up to what felt like hot tar burned into my chest. I could not get a deep breath unless I was on all fours. I’m healthy. I’m a runner. I’m 33 years old.”
In the emergency room, she was asked if she smoked or had pre-existing conditions. The answer was no.
The doctor replied, “I wish I could do something for you.”
She said she was one of the lucky ones. She didn’t need a ventilator and survived. But 27 days later, she still had lingering pneumonia.
“I use two inhalers, twice a day. I can’t walk more than a few blocks without stopping.”
Her plea to America was, “Please take this virus seriously.”
The question is whether the sports leagues are taking it seriously enough.
It could be players who are infected will have minor cases. But the virus can cause permanent lung damage, which could have severe consequences for the rest of their careers.
The sports leagues, including the NFL, will try to take a lot of precautions.
But the players and the leagues may ultimately regret opening in the middle of a pandemic.