Literally All Talk And No Action, cont’d – Athletes Opt Out


“We’re not your entertainment, we’re human beings.  Just like you would help your family, we want to help our mother, father, grandmother, everyone. ” Oregon safety Jevon Holland to Sports Illustrated.  Noble as the young man’s intentions may be here, it’s worth noting that during the three weeks of massive Black Lives Matter protests, these same concerns were essentially put on ice.

(Full Sports Illustrated article, referenced above, can be found here.)

There was actually a time where I assumed that sports, and football in particular, would put a dent in all this fear that’s permeated throughout our society. I really thought that as we approached football season, COVID panic would be no match for people’s desire to tailgate, get together on the weekend, head out to the bars etc. etc..

Man, was I wrong.

At the risk of sounding (or even being) patronizing, group narratives can overpower those who don’t think critically. For well longer than any of us have been alive, athletes have literally worked their asses off, to achieve their collegiate and professional dreams. Being afraid of the consequences was seen as a weakness- a sign that someone “just doesn’t want it enough.” ESPECIALLY in football, players are taking all KINDS of health risks- injuries and damage that can be with them for the rest of their lives. That’s never stopped them before, because they do it for the love of the game.

Effective this summer, that’s no longer the case. COVID-19, a virus whose main impacts are suffered primarily by unhealthy and/or elderly people- the exact OPPOSITE of an athlete’s profile- comes along, and what happens? These athletes, who have been training their entire lives for the opportunity to play at a national level, are being praised for NOT suiting up, thanks to the months of endless fear-peddling that has gripped America- a fear that has had far more of an effect on us collectively than the virus itself.

As someone who’s been far better in life at watching sports than playing them, one of the reasons I’ve been such a huge fan is because it provides an escape from the more troubling aspects of real life. Now? It’s become a reminder of them.

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