“Hang in there and maintain hope”
Is football COVID-19’s next victim?
The potential impact of the COVID-19 outbreak didn’t really register for many around the world until sports were affected. At first, leagues around the world planned to move forward through the pandemic by playing in empty stadiums. It wasn’t until National Basketball Association commissioner Adam Silver abruptly canceled a game seconds before tip-off – and then the rest of the slated games – that the emergency of the situation came into focus.
After Silver’s move, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, Major League Soccer and high school athletic associations announced they were postponing or cancelling their respective seasons.
That made it easier for schools to suspend operations for the semester and businesses across the country to order reduced staffs and eventually work from home orders.
The eruption of the number of cases of the virus has brought the world to a near standstill. Unfortunately, more than 3 million Americans have been laid off as a result of the outbreak, causing financial concern across the country.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, this week, with New Orleans as an epicenter, Louisiana emerged as having the fastest growing COVID-19 infection rate in the world. Local health systems, hospitals, and front-line medical experts are doing all they can to manage patients’ well-being, but they’re facing a tidal wave of cases that may cause the governor to open the city’s convention center as an alternative hospital and staging ground to treat those who contract the disease.
Recollections of the apocalyptic scene outside of the convention center after Hurricane Katrina have awakened rising uneasiness in our city, state, and across the nation. This morning, Today co-host Hoda Kotb, who was an anchor with WWL-TV from 1992 to 1998, broke into tears after interviewing Saints quarterback Drew Brees about the situation in the Crescent City and his family’s $5 million donation of to the state of Louisiana for COVID-19 relief.
“The state of Louisiana thrives on small businesses,” Brees told Kotb. “We’re a hospitality state, and so many people have been affected by this around the country but especially in New Orleans. So when Brittany and I think about one of New Orleans’ [residents’] basic needs, that is to make sure that they and their family are fed and they can continue to sustain. So that’s where we wanted to start.”
He advised New Orleanians to “Hang in there and maintain hope. Obviously, we’ve been through a lot of tough times together. Whether it’s hurricanes, oil spills, floods, and this is just another one of those bits of adversity that we’re going to come out better on the other side.”
As the interview concluded, Kotb broke down in tears and apologized to her audience. Her co-anchor, Savannah Guthrie, consoled her, “I know where your heart is, my dear, I do,” and took over the broadcast for the next segment.
Kotb displayed many of the emotions Americans, especially New Orleanians, are feeling, but doing their best to hide.
One of the worst parts of living through this crisis is the unknown of when society will be able to return to normal. No one wants to be on locked down for days, weeks, or months thinking about what they would be normally be doing.
In the sports world, we’d ordinarily be enjoying March Madness and the opening of baseball season. With the ‘Rona, college sports are done for the academic year and no prediction on when baseball may resume can be made.
While Americans might be willing to deal with spring sports cancellation, eyes are beginning to turn to the fall. While many are rooting for the pandemic to become an afterthought as soon as possible, ESPN college football expert Kirk Herbstreit said this week that he believes the gridiron will be a no go.
“I’ll be shocked if we have NFL football this fall, if we have college football. I’ll be so surprised if that happens,” Herbstreit recently said.
“Just because from what I understand, people that I listen to, you’re 12 to 18 months from a vaccine,” he continued. “I don’t know how you let these guys go into locker rooms and let stadiums be filled up and how you can play ball. I just don’t know how you can do it with the optics of it.”
A fall without football would cause a deep emotional depression across the country, but it’s better to be safe, especially in our litigious society, than sorry.
In this environment, it would be comforting to have a plan to deal with the virus and get back to our ordinary lives. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of misinformation presented from the highest levels of government to a now bedraggled country. While medical experts are saying the virus hasn’t yet peaked, there is an assumption that the country will return to normal by Easter.
The federal government has seemingly passed the buck and taken a backseat to our nation’s governors and states.
This week, our nation’s executive declared himself a “wartime president” in responding to this outbreak. Yet, when the governor of New York, the state hardest-hit by the virus thus far, asked for 30,000 ventilators to help gasping patients struggling to breathe, the president questioned the need in a Fox News interview.
Obviously, the president is concerned about being re-elected in November, but I do not understand the disconnect in confronting this pandemic. If he truly considers the nation at war with COVID-19, it seems he would be doing all he can to help our health care systems combat it. In a time of war, if the Pentagon requested 30,000 rifles, bombs, missiles, aircraft, etc., it would be fulfilled without question. So why isn’t the same effort being put into fighting this opponent?
Unfortunately, until our leadership gets on the same page with our physicians and nurses who are working day to day to eliminate the threat, we will be looking into a void. That means we’ll have questions about when we can go back to work, when the kids can go back to school, and when we can once again enjoy a ball game.