Sports and Its Media Are Not Leading the Way to Normalcy

As the data continues to indicate that the pandemic is currently fading in the United States , it has, counter-intuitively, never been m...


As the data continues to indicate that the pandemic is currently fading in the United States, it has, counter-intuitively, never been more obvious that we are nowhere near returning to societal normalcy. The devastating damage done to the American psyche by a year’s worth of incredibly one-sided, relentlessly pessimistic, and often misleading media coverage has created a psychological quicksand from which there will be no easy or speedy recovery.

There are many forces that have the potential to radically change the outlook of the large portion of the public, which is still unreasonably terrified by Covid, but most of them (like the “experts”) have dramatic personal conflicts of interest which make it very difficult for them to so do. One area of American life that would appear to be a rare exception is the realm of sports, but this past weekend made it all-too-clear that they are actually a significant hindrance to the already snail-paced progress we have made in getting back to real life.

On the surface, sports would be ideally-suited to being a very significant groundbreaker in this movement. After all, young athletes are the demographic least vulnerable to the virus, and major sports organizations depend on large crowds and television ratings to make their business model work.

But instead of leading the way towards normalcy, it is now obvious, despite having a full year to understand the true realities of this situation, sports may be a more influential blocker of this path than even Dr. Anthony Fauci. To be clear, almost all of the reasons behind this phenomenon have far more to do with political correctness, virtue-signaling, irrational fear of the Twitter mob, and the very liberal nature of the sports media, than actual science or real health concerns.

On Saturday, unbelievably, an NCAA tournament basketball game was cancelled and Virginia Commonwealth University was disqualified, apparently because of positive test results within their program. It appears the NCAA allowed the local health department to override their stated policy that if a school at least had enough players to field a team that they could be allowed to compete.

To be clear, while three players tested positive, we don’t know that anyone on the team was sick, and not one college basketball player in the entire nation has been known to be hospitalized due to Covid in the last year. Interestingly, the school insists that no one broke any of the NCAA’s “bubble” rules (which should make people at least question how much control we really have over a virus). Their defense of their own student-athletes, who have now had two straight seasons ended by fearful bureaucrats, was meek at best.

In a remotely rational world, such insanity would provoke righteous outrage from two powerful forces within the sports universe: the sports media and Twitter. Yet the extremely liberal sports media (as a former TV sportscaster it has always baffled me why the sports media is even more openly liberal than the mainstream news media) has been comically in the tank for all Covid-related restrictions from the start of this nightmare, and Woke Twitter has the same religious sensibilities.

So instead, the unprecedented cancellation of an NCAA tournament basketball game, which should bring the legitimacy of the entirety of “March Madness” into grave question, was reacted to with a bizarre shrug. This development received so little attention that it is likely only a small percentage of the population even knows that it happened.

Similarly, in just one day, the St. Lawrence University hockey team went from near-miracle qualifier for the NCAA tournament, to being ousted due to just one positive test involving their coach. Maddeningly, this allowed the school they had just defeated in dramatic fashion to replace them in the NCAAs.

The insanity hardly ends there. The level of masking (and the absolutely asinine rules regarding their actual use) in college sports has been breathtakingly nonsensical. Yesterday I learned that in college volleyball the players wear masks DURING play, and they then, rather hilariously, closely huddle with each other face-to-face after almost every point.

The sport which should be, thanks to its obvious inherent advantages, really be a trailblazer in showing everyone that athletics can be played both safely and normally, is golf. (Which, probably because its athletes spend far more time outside and socially distanced than any other, has had zero serious issues with Covid). But here is where the fear of being seen as conservative, white, male, “Neanderthal,” Trump supporters has greatly restricted golf’s willingness to break too far from the rest of the spineless sports pack.

The PGA Tour just finished its Florida swing, where it congratulated itself for allowing 20 percent of attendance capacity and forcing spectators to wear masks, even though the state itself has no such restrictions. Given that golf is obviously played outside, and on the largest playing field in sports, there is no scientific reason for these limitations. They are obviously political calculations based on the tour’s desire to virtue-signal, as well as their fear of drawing too much media and Twitter attention by making every other sport look silly.

Only a few years ago, The Masters golf tournament, to be played in three weeks, would have been the perfect moment for there to be a truly normal sporting event on American soil. Until recently, the Augusta National Golf Club was famously unmoved by fear of bad media coverage, but now they too have become completely wussified, and will surely only move the ball down the field a yard or two, when they are perfectly designed to be the entity which finally gets us into the end zone of normalcy.

The strangest part of the sports media eagerly going along with all of this absurdity is that, whether they are too dumb to realize it or not, it is all very much against their own self-interest to do so. Not only are they greatly restricted in attending events and having access to the players (most sports fans probably don’t even realize that even many of the broadcasters are not actually AT the games, a situation which is surely to be kept long-term as a cost-cutting device), they often have to do live reports, even when totally alone, in masks.

All of this is also greatly harming the sports media’s bottom-line. Despite far less competition from real-life activities, sports TV ratings are way down across the board over the last year, with no end in sight. It is my view that much of this decrease is due to the Covid restrictions which have killed the energy and pageantry of major sporting events (college football suffered a greater decline than other sports, and I predict the NCAA basketball tournament, sans true “madness,” will have at least a similar collapse in ratings).

The only way to break this vicious cycle is for someone to have the guts to be the first to really go out on a limb. The Texas Rangers baseball team appears ready to try, as they have announced they will allow nearly 100% attendance capacity (with masks, for Twitter protection, of course) at the start of the season.

It may seem trivial, but whether the Rangers win this battle (not with Covid, but with the PR war) will go a long way in determining if or when America ever gets out of this malaise. As a pessimist, I’m betting that Major League Baseball shuts them down because all the other owners will get jealous of their gate receipts, and insecure about being made to look like cowards.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Sports and Its Media Are Not Leading the Way to Normalcy
Sports and Its Media Are Not Leading the Way to Normalcy
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