Pandemic Shmandemic, Let’s Get Back to Sports!

While the country is suffering from massive layoffs, you just want to watch the NBA playoffs. These have been a tough few months for you: No haircuts! Having to wear restricting masks! Being forced to spend time at home with your family! And now with the recent revelation that America has some racist tendencies (who knew?!), the past few months have been a real drag. So you want an escape, a distraction. You just want to turn on the game and crack open a cold one. That way, you won’t have to think about the over-militarized, under-qualified police force cracking open the head of an innocent 75-year-old peaceful protestor. 

You’ve seen the horrible, no good, very bad police brutality videos. They were shocking! So you posted a black square on Instagram and you educated yourself by reading an eye-opening article or two; maybe you donated a little money. It felt good, uplifting even. And now that racism seems to be solved, you feel like it’s time the country comes together. What better way to heal than returning to sports? Sports doesn’t divide. It brings people together. Just ask a Red Sox fan and a Yankees fan — they love each other!

And, besides, there’s no racism in sports. How could there be? The NBA is 75% black and the NFL is 70%. It turns out the MLB is only 8% African-American. Is that right? you wonder. That seems low. You’ll have to check on that.  

Sure, out of the 123 teams in the four major American sports leagues only one is owned by a black person, and yes, regardless of how wealthy black athletes are, they still are subjected to the whims of their even wealthier, even more powerful, and almost exclusively white, “owners,” and yes, the term owners gives you pause, but, hey, look, there’s Michael Jordan — what a success story! You couldn’t get enough of The Last Dance. He’s black and he owns the Charlotte Hornets and all he had to do was become the greatest, richest, and most famous basketball player of all time, grow into a global icon, and be the face of one of the most recognizable apparel brands in the world. So there’s hope!

You’ve heard that some players are concerned that if sports resume the Black Lives Matter movement will be pushed aside, its message downed out. But you don’t think so. You reject the idea that the return of sports — and the corresponding coverage, articles, highlights, memes, and so on — will shift the national conversation away from the movement. You believe sports will be able to amplify the message, not overshadow it. That hasn’t been the case in the past, but this time feels different. Right? Many team owners are in favor of the protestors, and even though a number of them donated to Donald Trump —who has said “Laziness is a trait in blacks” and that some white supremacists are “very fine people”—these owners have written statements promising they are, in fact, very, very anti-racist, they swear. So that’s good. And Kaepernick is allowed to kneel now! Sure, he’s still not in the NFL, but, progress! 

What’s going on in America is disheartening, but so is losing a precious year of LeBron’s career. Think of what that’ll do to his legacy! And think if there’s no baseball season to watch three games of—how unfair! You understand that there are various health concerns with bringing sports back. Gathering hundreds of players, coaches, personnel, and their families into an isolated location in the midst of a global pandemic poses a few serious risks. But America deserves sports right now, so some risks are worth it. You won’t take that risk, you’re working from home for the next year, but you’re also not making millions of dollars, so, you know, it’s different.

You’ve been cooped up for a long time. Quarantine has been the hardest three months of your life. Being forced to confront 400 years of racism has been the most mentally-draining two weeks of your life. But now you’re ready to feel happy. You desperately desire returning to the safe, carefree days of a few months ago, when the idea of a deadly virus felt as impossible and far-away as the idea of racial division and police brutality. You want to escape the turmoil of real-life. You just want to get back to sports.