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Is the NFL Fumbling on Covid?

Abby Slutsky occasionally watches sports with her sons and husband, but her observations are often different from the men in her family.

Football, shouldn't we think about the players' safety?  Special thanks to Jean-Daniel Francoeur from Pexels for his photo.

Football, shouldn't we think about the players' safety? Special thanks to Jean-Daniel Francoeur from Pexels for his photo.

It is rare that I watch sports on television; it is just not my thing. Therefore, this is the only article you will probably read that I have wrtten about television sports, but the truth is, it is not going to be about the sports. In fact, it really is not about football either. It is about football attire and safety or the lack thereof. (Do not get excited; the players are still running down the field fully dressed in their uniforms.)

What is missing? They are wearing their helmets. They are wearing their mouthguards. Have you guessed it yet? Some politicians have decided that football players do not need masks while playing actual football games. Players are exempt from wearing them, but I certainly do not believe that is a rational decision.

Football: The Nature of the Sport

Let’s think about this clearly. The average person in a no-contact profession such as a waitress, a teacher, an executive, a cashier, or a physician must wear a mask while working. However, a football player who has more “in your face” contact with his team and an opposing team is exempt from wearing one.

I can think of no other professions that require the decision of consciously running towards someone to fall on them (the exciting tackle). Depending on how the players happen to fall (which cannot really be pre-determined), they may fall facing each other, and be breathing within centimeters of each other while practically lying on top of each other. The only thing I can think of that comes closer to their proximity is possibly an intimate encounter.

To make matters worse, the players are traveling constantly, so they are not just running and ramming themselves into the same team. No, instead, they have the weekly opportunity to literally run into and tackle a new team of potential COVID (not ball) carriers. Yes, these players might be living the dream of being professional athletes, but I am not sure in this environment they are.

The Coronavirus Does Not Make Exceptions

We are seeing time and again that if one player gets COVID, it has the potential to quickly spread throughout the team and possibly to other teams as well. Why is this happening? Some of our politicians, with support of NFL leadership, are not using good judgment when it comes to sports figures. As we well know, the virus does not exempt itself from political figures, celebrities or talented sports figures, so politicians (and the NFL) should be making the right decisions to keep professional football players safe. However, it is not just the safety of the players that concerns me.

For better or worse, football and other sports figures are role models for adults, teens, and children. If we want the public to follow the rules and stay safe, it is important for them to see their role models doing the same. Should high school students play football without masks because they see the pros do it?

Masks are essential to Covid safety. Everyone has the potential to get the coronavirus regardless of their profession or status.

Masks are essential to Covid safety. Everyone has the potential to get the coronavirus regardless of their profession or status.

Does Exempting Football Players from Wearing Masks Seem Logical?

As I watched Monday night's game, I noticed that the coaches were wearing masks, so apparently this exemption of masks is only appropriate for the players who are in close proximity to each other. The coaches are not ramming into each other, tackling each other, and breathing within inches of each other; yet, they do wear masks. Where is the logic? (Please don’t tell me that just because they wear helmets and mouthguards it is unsafe for them to wear masks -- at least to me, that rationale is a joke.) In fact, according to an article in Trib Liv, the Steelers wear masks during practice, so they could certainly wear them during games.

I am sure that fans who enjoy the game and fantasy leagues want the season to be able to progress without being shut down due to COVID. Maybe it would be smart to require players to wear masks so this does not happen. Wouldn’t it be a shame if there was no televised football because of poor decisions?

I suppose I should not even get started on the disregard for those players who have families, children, wives and girlfriends. I am sure their families or girlfriends are thrilled to see their loved ones exposing themselves to danger without taking precautions that are appropriate for everyone else.

Yes, the players are young, and in better shape than most of the public. However, that does not guarantee them exemption from contracting the coronavirus, or giving it to those who are in contact with them. I really expected a better decision from our leaders. What do you think?


This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2020 Abby Slutsky

Comments

Abby Slutsky (author) from America on November 25, 2020:

Thanks for your comments. HappyThanksgiving.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on November 25, 2020:

You make some excellent points and I have to say you are right. There is no logic to this. The push-back I hear is that it is harder to breathe with a mask on but if they are using them during practice and manage to breathe, there should be no problem with the game. Happy Thanksgiving.

Blessings,

Denise

Abby Slutsky (author) from America on November 25, 2020:

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your comments.

Liz Westwood from UK on November 25, 2020:

In the UK, soccer is going ahead with no fans. Players do not wear masks. There is regular testing. Positive tests result in exclusion for a while. If enough players are affected, matches have to be postponed. You raise some interesting points in this article.