Football and COVID-19

Here is Australia, so far we’ve been incredibly fortunate in terms of coronavirus infection and mortality. Thankfully, our government instituted some fairly hard distancing measures soon enough with vigorous contact tracing and quarantining. We’re also a very large island, so we’ve been able to shut down our borders very effectively.

This is a great site for statistics. You can see from here, that as I type, we’ve had 6,875 cases so far, along with 97 deaths. Our population is about 25 million people.

Our government is now beginning to reduce restrictions. It’s a bit of a nervous time for many, as we’ve seen what’s happened in so many places in the world. We’ve seen health systems overwhelmed by incredible infection rates and raw numbers of critical cases.

In the midst of all this, one of our two major national football competitions has begun to reopen. Not everyone is happy. It’s almost as if there’s one rule for most of us, and another for footballers. Chatting to people over the last few days, even ardent football fans are uncomfortable with the competition restarting so soon. It’s a contact sport. Teams have to train together. They have to contact each other, and we have to trust that they will behave in their downtime.

It’s made even worse by several high profile players not following current social distancing regulations very publicly just last week. They’ve apologised, but clearly they believed at the time that the rules didn’t apply to them. Given footballers’ track records, I don’t hold out too much hope. It seems to be the worst type of ‘sense of entitlement.’

Then there’s the players who’ve decided to flout the requirements to have the influenza vaccine, in order to play, by signing waivers. And then having their anti vaccination status given air time. (Unfortunately we have a few high profile antivax players.) Here in Australia, we have a ‘No Jab, No Play’ policy for our children to go to preschool. That means that children cannot begin their education if they don’t have up to date vaccination status, or a genuine medical exemption.

Our PM has suggested that the footballers should be ‘No Jab, No Play’ as well.

What concerns me, is that if one day we have a vaccine for COVID-19, that these same players will refuse it on the grounds that ‘I played without a flu vaccine, how is this different?’ and get lots of media airtime to promote their views. It seems incredibly wrong. But it really bothers me.

COVID-19 is incredibly infectious. And it only takes one to set off another chain of infection.

Sigh….

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