The New Normal

Things I thought I’d never see…

Hundreds of people lined up with their shopping carts, waiting to get into Costco. Half of them wearing gloves and masks to prevent the spread of a deadly virus. No traffic on the freeway or in the Bay Bridge toll plaza. Restaurants, theaters, churches, retails stores, shopping malls, golf courses, playgrounds and parks all shuttered or closed to the public.

It’s all very surreal. Suddenly the United States of America resembles a Third World country, unable to cope with disease, unable to provide needed supplies, with those who provide

life-saving care putting their own lives in jeopardy every day.

Somehow, the country most people would expect to be best equipped to fight a global pandemic has been overwhelmed by a novel virus, sustaining far more casualties than any other nation in the world.

Decades of underfunding of public health programs left the U.S. unprepared and under-equipped to handle a crisis of this magnitude. And the lack of resources was exacerbated by denial, delay and dysfunction from the Trump administration.

With a quicker, better-organized, and more well coordinated response, much of this nightmare might’ve been avoided or mitigated. Many, many lives could’ve been saved.

For now, it’s time to do whatever is necessary to stem the tide and prevent the spread. If you live in the Bay Area, home of the first six counties in the country to order shelter in place, consider yourself lucky indeed. If you live in one of the eight states which have yet to order a lockdown—all of whom have Republican governors—please stay home.

Sports, as noted in a previous blog, may seem rather superfluous at times like these. But we all miss the drama, the excitement and the emotion that sports provides. God knows we miss the escape from our day-to-day stress, anxiety and responsibility.

In the current context, sports would provide a welcome, much-needed respite. But the predictions of when they might resume are all over the map, with the most optimistic projections also seeming the most unrealistic. It could be awhile before we see any balls and strikes, three-pointers, and touchdowns.

Speaking of which…

Mixed Messages: One thing we’ve learned during this pandemic. Uncertainty and conflicting messages only add to the problem.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of conflicting sound bites concerning the likelihood of an NFL season this fall.

Some of the noise is coming from the politicians. President Trump says the football season should start on time. California Governor Gavin Newsom says, “I don’t see that happening in my state.”

Some of the confusion is coming from the league itself.

Mr. Arrogance, Commissioner Roger Goodell, is still planning to go ahead with the NFL Draft in a few weeks and speaks confidently about the 2020 season. Not only that, he’s threatened to penalize any team that criticizes league decisions.

Yet the NFL’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, said this last week: “As long as we’re still in a place where when a single individual tests positive for the virus that you have to quarantine every single person who was in contact with them in any shape, form or fashion, then I don’t think you can begin to think about reopening a team sport. Because we’re going to have positive cases for a very long time.”

One would have to think the good doctor, who hopefully has the safety of the players in mind, might be more realistic than the good commissioner, whose only real concern is to ring the cash register.

Final Thought (complete with a sports analogy): Five weeks ago, certain leaders and Fox talk show hosts were calling COVID-19 a “hoax” and predicting that the 15 U.S. cases “will be down close to zero in a few days”.

Now those same folks are saying “if we have 100,000 to 200,000 deaths, we’ll have done a very good job.”

Some people might refer to that shift in expectations as “moving the goal posts.”

To me, it’s more like moving the entire stadium.

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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