Sports World Reacts to Virus...Finally

The sports world was slow to react to the coronavirus—though at least no one called it a hoax—but that all changed yesterday when the NBA suspended its season, the NCAA announced March Madness would be played in empty arenas, NHL and MLS teams postponed games, and colleges cancelled seasons or closed their games to the public.

And this morning, conferences throughout the country cancelled their basketball tournaments.

These actions came only a few days after the initial, classically tone-deaf response from pro teams to close their locker rooms to the media. As one of my friends wryly noted, they must've been worried about catching the virus from Bruce Jenkins, Ann Killion and Drew Shiller.

Indeed, it was only after one of its players—Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert—tested positive that the NBA shut down. Again, it was clear that the players' safety was paramount; the public’s was clearly secondary.

(I should note that in the days before his positive testing, Gobert had laughingly mocked the coronavirus by touching reporters' microphones and cellphones. He’s not laughing now).

As a result of these overdue measures, egregiously overpaid players and coaches may lose some money. NBA teams and the NCAA—who both reap outrageous fortunes—may lose some money.

Big deal.

My sympathies are with the contract workers who staff the games—the ushers, ticket takers, parking attendants, concessionaires, janitors, etc.—who are paid on a game by game basis and will be hardest hit by these cancellations.

Hopefully the teams will step up and figure out a way to compensate these folks.

Clown Show Continued: Meanwhile our president, who has repeatedly downplayed the danger, contradicted public health experts and spread falsehoods (such as insisting the virus will go away when it gets warmer), gave a less-than-inspiring speech from the Oval Office.

Some of the things that I (and many others well above my pay grade) believe need to happen immediately are free coronavirus testing, treatment fee waivers, one to three months of emergency paid sick leave, interest free loans to small businesses, an increase in the federal share of Medicaid payments, quarantines, and nationwide event cancellations.

Instead, struggling to read from a teleprompter, continuing to foster blatant inaccuracies and self-congratulation, xenophobically referring to the corona as a “foreign virus,” Trump announced a ban on travel from Europe, which will have little effect.

A few minutes after the disastrous oration, his aides scrambled to “clarify” several factual errors and misstatements.

The man's incompetence never ceases to amaze me. But this time, it’s costing human lives.

Gary Cavalli - Bowl and League co-founder, author, speaker 

Gary Cavalli, the former Sports Information Director and Associate Athletic Director at Stanford University, was co-founder and executive director of the college football bowl game played in the Bay Area, and previously was co-founder and President of the American Basketball League.

Get in touch//@cavalli49//gacavalli49@gmail.com

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