PICKART: Sports teams must set example to combat COVID-19

Milwaukee+Brewers+should+follow+COVID-19+guidelines+when+allowing+fans+into+the+stadium.+Photo+via+Flickr+

Milwaukee Brewers should follow COVID-19 guidelines when allowing fans into the stadium. Photo via Flickr

Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers hosted the Toronto Blue Jays and over 38,000 fans in their home opener April 5, completely ignoring the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations and restrictions. The Texas Rangers organization is setting a horrible example for the remainder of the MLB season and fans, both in person and at home. Ultimately, this action promotes immense ignorance, lack of care for communities who continue to struggle through the COVID-19 pandemic and a major false sense of hope that the pandemic is coming to an end.

After the state of Texas lifted the mask mandate and COVID-19 restrictions March 10, the Rangers were able to play in front of a sold-out crowd less than a month later, with little social distancing and minimal mask-wearing, though both were supposedly requirements in order to attend the game

Texas currently ranks in the bottom five states in terms of the percentage of vaccinated individuals, with only 15% of the total population being fully vaccinated as of April 2. The state is in no position to open businesses and entertainment spaces to 100% capacity, yet Texas’s governor, Greg Abbott, confidently declared in a press conference that Texas has “mastered” avoiding COVID-19, which is completely ridiculous. 

While the Rangers team is technically following its state’s protocol, it is embarrassing to see the team act in this way, as they put their fans at risk and turned a blind eye to the international community that has endured over a year of this exhausting pandemic. In fact, businesses and organizations are still able to mandate masks, even if the state of Texas says otherwise. For example, though the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Governor Tony Evers’s mask mandate, the City of Milwaukee continues to enforce a mask mandate for the safety of the city and its communities. Businesses can do the same. 

If anything, the Rangers organization is only further contributing to the increase in COVID-19 cases while health professionals urge businesses, organizations and states to avoid easing restrictions.  The Texas Rangers should not have had the opportunity to even open its game to fans, especially at full capacity. 

Although 150,000 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered since President Joe Biden’s first days in office, we are nowhere near herd immunity, which is achieved when a significant amount of the population has received the vaccine and would make the spread of COVID-19 from person to person unlikely, ultimately allowing for significant protection against the virus. Actions similar to those of the Texas Rangers organization will only suspend healthy, safe normalcy and will continue to put this nation at greater risk. The pandemic is not over; our actions must reflect that. 

It is essential that professional sports teams veer away from actions similar to that of the Texas Rangers organization. If fans are allowed to attend in-person games, it should only be a limited amount. And, while doing so, professional sports teams must enforce social distancing and mask-wearing if in attendance, at the very least. Arenas and stadiums should require a negative COVID-19 test done on site before being allowed into the stadium. Then, and only then, is it truly safe to attend. 

With the Milwaukee Bucks’ season ramping up, there is no doubt that the Bucks will be hosting at least one series in the playoffs. In addition, the Milwaukee Brewers’ season has just gotten started and, with summer only a month out, there will definitely be an increase in attendance and tailgating.

That being said, the Milwaukee Bucks and Milwaukee Brewers must continue to only open up their games to limited fans. Any potential increases in fans allowed should be immediately combatted and questioned, especially until it is supported by the CDC. 

This is not a political issue. This is a health crisis that has endured for far too long and will continue if we act irresponsibly and selfishly. It has affected people of all demographics in monumental ways. 

In order to achieve true normalcy any time soon, it is essential for those who are eligible to sign up for the vaccine. 

In Wisconsin, anyone 16 years old and older is eligible to receive the vaccine and can sign up online through the City of Milwaukee Health Department. Encourage family, friends and peers who are eligible to sign up and get vaccinated. 

If Marquette sports are to open up to student attendance, it is essential for the student body to be vaccinated. There is absolutely no excuse, as we are all eligible for the vaccine. With parties and minimal social distancing that occurred National Marquette Day, it is irresponsible to avoid vaccinations.

For Marquette faculty, staff and students who schedule an appointment, Marquette is hosting a clinic April 14 to administer the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Lunda Room in the Alumni Memorial Union. There are limited spots, so sign up. If you are unable to sign up via Marquette, register through the Milwaukee Health Department. Everyone has a chance to make a difference for the fight against COVID-19. 

Professional sports teams and leagues nationally must also commit toward actions that benefit and promote the health and safety of the public. 

Together, we can end COVID-19 and ultimately experience normalcy safely.

This story was written by Max Pickart. He can be reached at max.pickart@marquette.edu