There is nothing about Covid-19 I like. Obviously, the deaths, illness, fatigued-beyond-words health care workers, and tremendous fear among many top the list. But I also hate the way it has intruded upon sports.
Sports serves as both a mirror of our society and an escape from it. Watching our city’s teams is really the last thing we do together, and can agree upon. In whichever city you live, you see people on the street, train, bus, or in a restaurant and say, “How ’bout the (insert team name here)?” Strangers connect, and we make new friends.
I do that twice everyday on social media. With Breakfast with Kent each morning, I trying to make friends by talking about the Colts, Hoosiers, Pacers, Bulldogs, Boilers, and even the Cubs a little bit. In the afternoon, I do the same on Inside Indiana Sports Now. It’s all sports – or at least it has been until now.
Here is this morning’s Breakfast with Kent:
That a lot of Covid talk, right? Not so much a diversion from our day-to-day troubles, but a full on embrace of this endless nightmare. And why did I talk so much about Covid?
Here in Indianapolis, the Colts have one of the NFL’s lowest vaccination rates. Those who have not been vaccinated include new quarterback Carson Wentz, All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard, All-Pro left guard Quenton Nelson, Pro-Bowl center Ryan Kelly, and receiver Zach Pascal. The unvaccinated are held to a protocol by the NFL that shutters them in a five-day quarantine if they have close contact with someone who tests positive.
That is exactly what happened this week to Wentz, Kelly, and Pascal, and happened last week to Nelson. That’s how we know they have not been vaccinated. If it happens during the season and these players are unavailable on Sunday, the Colts chances of competing successfully will be greatly diminished.
So you can see how Covid and the NFL have been welded together as one. Talking about one without mentioning the other, especially for a team like the Colts with a 75%-ish vaccination rate, is impossible. People don’t embrace each other over Covid talk – they lose friends because of it. If you take the vaccine, some see you as an eager-to-comply fool. If you refuse, some see you as a selfish fool. Yikes!
On my YouTube channel, comments are offered by a growing group of subscribers who enjoy discussing our teams. It’s one of the rewards of hosting the shows. I enjoy the comments – or at least I did until the need to talk Covid intruded upon our fun little sports haven.
Over the last few days, angry screeds have been authored by vaccine proponents and detractors. Few agree with me or each other. We’ve gone from a happy group of sports fans whose biggest dispute was whether Jacob Eason or Sam Ehlinger should be Carson Wentz’s backup to a collection of judgmental and impatient individuals.
I hope that the Colts stop falling prey to NFL protocols and we can come together as we watch each weekend. My fear is again and again this season the toxic debate between vaccine proponents and detractors will rage as one Colt after another is forced to sit.
That’s life – and media – in 2021. And we also need to steel ourselves for whatever misery Covid brings to other diversions like the NBA, college football, and college basketball. Oh, and don’t forget the Winter Olympics. If that’s as much fun as the Summer Games, I won’t mention it at all either.
Just remember – as much as you loathe Covid talk sprinkled into your sports, I enjoy talking about it even less. If I ever figure our how to separate the two – you will see me smiling ear to ear as the happiest guy on YouTube!