Take a look around. Football is back! If by football you mean soccer. So is rugby. Yes, they are playing in empty stadiums – but games are going on. People in different parts of the world can cheer on their favorite team. They can celebrate in victory, even hang out in pubs and bars to watch the big games. And, yes, make bets on those games.
The same cannot be said for America. Since the NBA shut down mid-season, there have been no sports at all. Heck, at this point, American sports enthusiasts are probably learning about the German Bundesliga just for something to watch. Because in America, there is a whole lot of nothing.
Sure, we are promised sports are going to come back eventually. Major League Baseball is talking about it. The NBA plans to re-open in, of all spaces, Walt Disney World. With a “bubble” isolation situation and expensive rings that will alert the wearer to symptoms in advance, a lot of time, money, and effort are going into a season that in normal times would be finishing up by now.
And there is talk of starting training sessions for NFL games in a couple of months. But notice that the NFL has already said the Super Bowl could be put off for weeks or even months. No one can figure out how to keep the players safe in such an intense contact sport, to say nothing of the huge staff that manages each team.
There's talk about baseball as well – a 60-game season starting July 11, with the World Series being held after Thanksgiving, assuming it happens at all. And it probably won't, with more than 40 players testing positive currently.
These are all pipe dreams of franchise owners trying to bring in some money. But they know – as does anyone who's been paying attention – that it simply is not feasible.
The U.S. Government failed the sports themselves, and sports fans in particular. There's a reason why gamblers are suddenly betting on virtual sports. Other than some Japanese baseball (Nippon Professional Baseball) or now, more recently, a few overseas soccer games, there’s a whole lot of nothing out there to root for (and bet on!).
The truth of the matter is, the lockdown in America should have started far sooner than it actually did. Every other country in the world except Sweden managed this, and to be frank, they now have the world’s highest death rate per 100,000 people, and the architect of their virus plan has admitted grave mistakes were made.
Secondly, it should have been a real lockdown. Yes, bars were closed – except, you know, to sell people drive-thru margaritas. People feel insecure about wearing masks in public. Rallies were allowed to protest the lack of haircuts.
Nothing was done, however, to actually enforce the lockdown of actual people. Instead, we've seen our neighbors throw “social distancing” parties where everyone is touching the same bottles and plates. We all have friends who have gone to see their significant others or family members and then come back home without self-isolating.
When you look at Spain, Italy, and France they put real, tangible effort into keeping their citizens at home. Police were on the streets. In Spain, children couldn't go outside at all for weeks.
Was this harsh? Yes, it was. But did it work – yes it did. There was a unified force in Europe that kept things locked down until the numbers started looking good. And that helped quite a bit.
Or, for the gold standard, go around the world and check out New Zealand – their response to the virus was quick and severe. As a result, there hasn’t been a new case in the country in more than three weeks, and not only is professional soccer being played – the stands are packed with fans.
Third, the lockdown in America was lifted way too early. The federal government basically did nothing to enforce the lockdown; that was left up to the states. And you only need to look at Florida, Arizona, and Texas to see how that worked out. All three opened up early and are now seeing record-breaking COVID-19 infections every day.
It's a crappy thing, but it's the cold, hard truth. The government in America did not do enough to protect its citizens. It did not do enough to protect the players. And it did not do enough to protect sports fans.
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