As if on cue, American sports leagues are starting to experience game postponements and other disruptions due to the Wuhan coronavirus. The Chicago Bulls have postponed their next two games due to ten players being in health and safety protocols. This is the first time NBA games have been postponed this season due to covid issues. It won’t be the last.
Similarly, the National Hockey League has postponed the next three games of the Calgary Flames. And, as I was writing this post I learned that the game between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Minnesota Wild has also been postponed due to an outbreak in the Carolina ranks.
I don’t think any NFL games have been postponed yet. However, 37 players tested positive yesterday. The league responded by sending a memo to its 32 teams mandating a booster shot for all Tier 1 and Tier 2 team employees. The league and the players association are discussing booster shots for players.
Redskins Football Team has been hit hard by the virus. Just before the team’s showdown with the Dallas Cowboys, the two defensive ends slated to start were ruled out for testing positive. This was especially unfortunate because the two were replacements for the team’s regular starters — Chase Young and Montez Sweat — both of whom couldn’t play due to injury. Thus, the Skins team had to go with its fifth and sixth best defensive ends.
Since Sunday’s game, the team has added four more players to its covid list. One of them is Jonathan Allen, the best player on the WFT this year.
It seems like just a matter of time before there are covid postponements in college basketball. Maybe there already have been.
I hope that this fourth wave of covid infections will be less deadly than the first three. There’s reason to believe it may be. In addition, the first three waves claimed the lives of very few, if any, current athletes.
But teams can’t compete when a critical mass of players are ill. So the relevant question isn’t how many players will be gravely ill, it’s how many will be sick.
Under current policy, moreover, the question isn’t how many players are sick, it’s how many are in covid protocol. Covid protocol isn’t likely to change any time soon. Thus, we may experience major sports disruption this winter, as the weather gets even colder and the new, more contagious variant takes hold in the U.S.