The unmasked crowds celebrating shoulder to shoulder in the streets of Tampa, Florida last night were proof positive that despite all the health guidelines in the world, sports fans are stupid. In the stadium protocols were followed, but on the streets the Tampa Bay fans cheered and hugged and sang, spreading aerosols and droplets in a person to person celebratory frenzy for Tom Brady and their winning Super Bowl LV champion Buccaneers.
The date was February 7. 2021, and COVID-19 infection rates were just beginning to drop in North America following the Christmas and New Year family gathering infection surge. So count forward 10 days to two weeks and let’s see if the wave begins to crest again around the last week of February. With new variant strains of the coronavirus entering the playing field, and certain vaccines like Astra-Zeneca proving less effective against the mutants, it could be a whole new ball game.
The whole world of professional and amateur sport is culpable in spreading this virus, From the Super Bowl right down to college football. From hockey and soccer and baseball and basketball fans to the Australian Open tennis entitled to the Olympic hopefuls – all of these venues attracting massive gatherings of people are suspect super-spreader events. Greed is insatiable and money doesn’t sleep, so there is no incentive to postpone all of these events until after this global pandemic is under control.
Granted, most professional and amateur sports organizations have been very careful about following health protocols, but the Super Bowl and the Australian Open stand out as exceptions, and their ability to attract hordes of loyal fans is a marketing mogul’s dream come true. If you advertise it, they will come because, as the partying crowds in the streets of Tampa last night proved, people are stupid.
We are not ignorant of the impact of large crowded events. We have been told since the spring of 2020 to stay 2 metres apart, to wash our hands frequently, to wear masks. We chastized the fanatical crowds at Trump rallies, we held the Sturgess motorcycle mob to account, we held the American Thanksgiving family gatherings up for public shaming, and yet we continue to gather in spewing, alcohol fueled masses like sheep led to the slaughter to watch our gladiators. We are just stupid, and the herd is thinning itself.
In the United States and Canada alone, as of the morning after Super Bowl LV, over 484,000 people have died from COVID-19. To paraphrase detective Dirty Harry Callahan: “Are you feeling lucky today sports fans? Well, are you?”
The way I see it.
Skid Crease, Caledon
*image from whas11.com