While Professional Sports Continue, The United State’s Priorities Concerning The Pandemic Are Questioned


Patrick Sweeney, News Editor

The coronavirus pandemic has altered life as we know it. There have been many consequences of the coronavirus. Many businesses have shut down during the past 8 months. Some are doing it out of safety precautions, while others just do not have the staff and money to stay afloat. Despite many businesses and events being shuttered, sporting events continue to go on in this country. Athletes are being paid millions of dollars just to play a sport. In addition to this, they have easy access to COVID-19 testing. Also, many sports players have disregarded coronavirus precautions, leading to massive outbreaks. The fact that sports players continue to have this luxury in the middle of a pandemic when so many are struggling is a testament to the priorities of the United States.

When the pandemic began in March, many sports fans thought they would be deprived of watching their favorite players. However, they were mistaken. Many sports leagues made adjustments to their schedules and games to make everything safer. For example, Major League Baseball made many changes to their season this year. The MLB usually begins its season in late March, with Spring Training beginning in February. However, this year proved to be very different. The MLB was not able to start on time due to the rising number of coronavirus cases in the country. Instead, baseball began on July 24th. There was a shortened season this year. Usually, players participate in a rigorous 162-game schedule that lasts until late September. Teams who make the playoffs play until around Halloween. Major League Baseball cut the size of their season drastically. Only 60 games were played. The league incorporated many protocols to ensure that all players and staff were safe and healthy. For example, players had to take their own temperatures two times before reporting to the ballpark. Any players who had COVID symptoms or were diagnosed with the virus were prohibited from entering the ballpark or any other team buildings. In addition to this, all players and staff wore masks when they were not playing on the field, including while they were on the bench or in the clubhouse. All of these measures were implemented so that players and staff would be able to play the game they love in the midst of a pandemic.

Even though MLB put together rules to ensure safety, outbreaks did occur during the Major League Baseball season. From the start of the season until early August, which is a total of 14 days, there were 104 reported coronavirus cases throughout baseball. The largest number of infected players were part of the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals, which had a combined total of 31 cases. Because of these outbreaks, games had to be postponed for a period of time. The issues in Miami almost led to the league suspending the entire season. Some of the cases there are linked to players visiting with other people in Georgia and violating coronavirus precautions. Despite all of the outbreaks, MLB pushed on and finished the season on time with just a few games postponed. The Los Angeles Dodgers became the World Series Champions. However, there was controversy on the field after the last pitch was thrown. Justin Turner, the Dodgers third baseman, was notified during the game that he had tested positive for coronavirus. He proceeded to leave the field and quarantine himself for the rest of the game. However, after the Dodgers clinched the title, he came back on the field to celebrate with his teammates. He can be seen posing in the team photo without a mask and hugging his teammates and family members. According to Rob Manfred, the MLB commissioner, “Many teammates felt they had already been exposed to Mr. Turner and were prepared to tolerate the additional risk.” And this leaves us with a very important question: What are the priorities of this country? Was this really a good choice to continue sports leagues while front-line workers were struggling to save patients from the novel coronavirus?

Healthcare workers all over the country have been working extremely hard over the past 9 months. They have had to battle a pandemic and see many of their patients suffer and die, most of which could not see relatives before passing away. They have suffered from mental health issues such as anxiety and depression because of this. Some dread going to work in the morning because of all of the suffering. However, there have been many in this country that have disregarded this and went on with their daily lives. They have continued to put themselves and others at risk because of their utter selfishness. An example of this is sports players. The country has been in the midst of a pandemic since March. Businesses have closed and many have been forced to shut their doors for good. There are people dying of the coronavirus every day. Roughly two people die of the coronavirus every minute in the United States. There are hundreds of thousands of people who line up every day for food. They sit in their cars for hours and wait because they are not able to put food on the table for their families. Many are out of work and do not have the money to buy food. And despite all of this suffering and hardship, athletes have still gone out on the field and played their respective games. They continue to get paid millions of dollars just to play a sport. According to stltoday.com, the average Major League Baseball player gets about $4.4 million dollars per year. This is per player. According to business.org, the average salary for an essential worker is just $37,436. These athletes are getting paid an extreme amount of money to play a sport that has no consequence or significance to this country. It does generate tourism and fun memories. However, the money that sports players are making could be put towards better causes, like increasing the paychecks for frontline workers during this pandemic. These people work extremely hard and deserve to make more money than they currently do.

A recent argument that has erupted on the topic of sports players has been their access to coronavirus testing. According to MLB guidelines, players should be tested every other day to ensure that they do not spread the coronavirus to others. According to an article by beckershospitalreview.com, “a recent survey from National Nurses United showed about two-thirds of its more than 15,000 members had never been tested for COVID-19.” This shows a lot about what the priorities are in this country. Sports players have great access to COVID testing. They get tested for one sole reason – to play a game in the middle of a pandemic. On the other hand, essential workers are on the front lines every day. They risk their lives and their family’s lives. However, they do not have the same access to testing as athletes. They are forced to live with a false sense of security. It is very important that people in this country recognize essential workers for their incredible efforts and be paid accordingly for the risks they and their families take.

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed many things about this country. For example, it has shown that history is going to repeat itself. There was also a pandemic 100 years ago, in 1918. It also shows how much the country values sports players. Things need to change now if we want to honor our essential workers. We need to increase their pay and decrease the paychecks of sports players who are not making a difference during this pandemic. Essential workers have gone through so much during the past 9 months. We should thank them by adding extra money to their paychecks to compensate in a small way for the great risks they take every day. As Bob Riley once said, “Hard times don’t create heroes. It is during hard times when the ‘hero’ within us is revealed.”