We Really Don’t Deserve Sports – by John Furgele

By John Furgele, author of The Bottom Line

Kudos to Canada. You should be applauded and respected for not kowtowing to “American sports.”  In case you don’t know what that means, the Toronto Blue Jays have been denied permission to play their 30 home games in Toronto this summer. The city said yes; the province said yes, but the country said no and as a result, the Jays will likely play their games in Buffalo, NY in 2020.

The USA, our homeland, has done such a terrible job with the Coronavirus that I’m not sure we deserve anything at this point. We have been told to avoid large gatherings. We have been told to avoid bars, restaurants and other indoor settings. We have been asked to social distance. We have been asked to wear a mask.

But we’re Americans, we are entitled and we are allowed to do what we want when we want. Meanwhile, the number of positive Coronavirus infections continues to rise and as long as that continues, the major sports will face constant obstacles.

Canada won’t let you and me into their country at least until August 21 and already there is word that the border closure will be extended through at least August 31. Can you blame them for this?  If I was Canada, I would do the same thing; in fact I might wait for a year before I let you come in “for fun.”

We are a self-absorbed country. We love ourselves—-a lot.  We feel sorry for ourselves. As long as I don’t get Covid, do I really care who gets it? I just want to go to my bar, go to my restaurant and go on my vacation.

We have a lot of First World problems of course. When I hear friends say that they’re sad because this is the first time they haven’t taken a vacation in 15 years, I cringe. You’re not losing your life here; you’ve been asked to give up some things for one summer, but Covid be damned, I want my vacation.

People are calling this the second wave, but in reality, this is still the first wave and because we’re not doing enough to flatten the curve. I’m sure the second wave will not be pretty.

Despite this, we keep hearing that college football will be played this fall, to which I say……how?  Unlike the NFL, these are kids who don’t get paid, yet, we want them to play so we can be entertained?

I love college football. I miss sports—-Badly. I want to see the Stanley Cup hoisted, the Larry O’Brien trophy given to the NBA champs and I want the NFL to start in September, but how can this be done with the way things are going?

This week, MLB will start their truncated 2020 season. Unlike MLS, the WNBA, the NBA and the NHL, MLB teams will not be playing in “the Bubble.”  They will fly in for three games, and then fly out.  They will try to quarantine themselves in hotels, but they won’t be totally restricted because there is no bubble.

College football is already in disarray. Many conferences at the FCS level have already called off fall sports and some say that they may try to play some football in the spring. The Power 5 conferences—well, at least the Pac 12 and Big Ten–have announced that they will play conference only schedules—if they play—this fall.  As a result, you will see some teams play 12 games, others 10 and some as few as seven or eight, all while the Coronavirus rages on.

We can’t force everybody to wear masks, even though we all should when we’re out in public settings.  I think we’re in for a rude awakening. We think this is nothing more than a bad flu, yet we’re afraid to let our kids go back to school and many colleges are going online only for the fall, yet we expect LSU to play Alabama this November.

Eventually, the virus will weaken, but the new norm is going to limit spectators and require game goers to more than likely wear masks. I’m not sure fans think that will happen, but I think it will.

I can see all stadiums and arenas playing at 50 percent capacity for a long time—and with masks required for all attendees. Take your 60,000 seat stadium. You better get used to 30,000 capacity for the next few years until there is a vaccine or until Covid-19 fades away like SARS and H1N1. If that does happen, the fans will bitch and moan and claim that this isn’t fair; that they’re getting jobbed; that the Coronavirus is a hoax.

And, the truth is that yes, you are getting jobbed and guess what—-it’s your own fault. We were asked to do a few things and we couldn’t do them successfully.  The Governor of Florida decided that because he didn’t get hit hard in March and April, that he could open everything up; now, they’re getting 12,000 to 15,000 infections per day.

Most Americans are following the rules, but it’s not enough. When sports come back, most of us will avoid bars, stadiums and arenas will be content to watch the games from home.

Many think this is not a big deal and it will only be a matter of time before 60,000 seat stadiums have 60,000 fans in them.  I’m no scientist, but even if things get better, get used to limited capacity for the foreseeable future.

It can be done. The independent American Association is playing baseball games right now, with 25 to 33 percent capacity. For the Chicago Dogs, a team that plays in a 6,000 seat stadium that means 1,500 tickets can be sold for each game. So, when 800 show up, the new reality says the place is half-full.

Americans will be livid, they will scream that their civil liberties are being violated and they will bitch about it each and every day. The one thing that they won’t do is look themselves in the mirror and ask, “Did I do my part to help quell Covid-19?”

I’m sure many are already giving Canada a tongue-lashing because they won’t let us, the Great Americans into their “second-rate” country. The one thing Americans are good at is saying that we live in the greatest country in the world. If you notice, we’re the only country that says it constantly, a sure sign of our own insecurity.

Canada did the right thing, while America has done the wrong thing. Maybe we will wake up and decide that for this year, why not invite friends over, sit six feet from each other, have everybody bring their drinks and socialize rather than go to a crowded bar and breathe all over each other.

I feel bad for those that own bars and restaurants; they don’t deserve this, but sadly, this is out of their control and while the term new norm is already overused and tired, it will be the reality. Get used to 50 percent capacity because if you waiting for this to just go away and have 100,000 fans at Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium in 2021, you’re going to be in for a lengthy wait.

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