At the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, I stayed away from discussing it in any form. Today, I swerved into that polarizing topic because major league sports are in the process of trying to resume competition. It seemed impossible to avoid.
During the Facebook version of Breakfast with Kent, everything was cool. Comments are rarely shared on Facebook live videos because the form really isn’t interactive. Periscope is a different animal, and so I was inundated with comments representing both sides of a spirited debate.
Half felt strongly any resumption of live sports endangers athletes and fans. They believed playing games will communicate to society a lack of respect for Coronavirus and cause increased deaths. The other half expressed a passionate indifference for the virus and the threat it poses. They want normalcy.
I argued with both positions because those who want sports to resume don’t want people to die any more that those who hope sports wait for a vaccine enjoy sitting at home. As is the case with almost all hotly debated issues, wisdom lies somewhere in the middle.
There are two sciences at play in this Coronavirus debate, and both need to be respected. Epidemiology is the study of incidence, distribution, and possible control of disease (I looked that up to make sure I stated it precisely). Economics is the study of the production, consumption, and transfer of wealth (I looked that up too). Those sciences are at odds with one another during this weird time.
Without health, money and the things it can buy are impossible to enjoy. Without money, good health is difficult to maintain. See, our society is not quite as simple as quarantine until everyone is vaccinated. It’s also not good to open everything up without considering the toll that takes upon those most vulnerable to the spread of the virus.
People yell at each other on social media about hunger versus disease as though one is a better option. And in traditional media, well, they don’t get ratings by informing within the gray area. Media stakes out a claim to the far left or far right as it panders to those who align with each specific outlets. Hard truths aren’t advanced because no one wants to hear them. That means we cannot trust national news, which is incredibly sad.
These are strange and tough times requiring the acceptance of unpleasant realities and sacrifices. That will likely mean games without fans, and an increase in the spread of the virus. Many of those who return to work will contract the virus, and some will die. Our economy will improve, but not enough to please the very pragmatic among us.
Sports are going to return at some point in an imperfect fashion. That will please many and anger a bunch of others. That’s our world right now, but there is a difference between getting mad at a situation or decision and attacking those with whom we disagree.
Today, there are protesters in Michigan and Texas furious with their state government enforcing a violation of their rights to earn a living and feed their families. When sports return, there will be protests expressing fury with leagues elevating financial concerns over health.
Humanity has a long legacy of demeaning those who believe something other than us – whomever “us” is. Fox News viewers deride MSNBC viewers as weak and soft. MSNBC fans believe Fox News patrons are heartless Donald Trump sycophants. Neither are correct in their blanket condemnations.
It would be poetic to claim the greatest victim of Coronavirus is our civility, but that would require identifying the point in our history when we were willing to look beyond our differences to find common ground.