The Virus, Social Distancing, and Sports
Author: Greg Valliere
April 15, 2020
IT’S INCREASINGLY CLEAR that a gradual, phased return to a new normal is coming next month in lightly affected regions of the U.S. A leak in this morning’s Washington Post confirms that federal guidance will be released within days.
GOVERNORS WILL CALL THE SHOTS, of course, but President Trump will be a major part of the show — with his signature on $1,200 government aid checks — amid his call for workers to return to their jobs. But we’re not returning to the old normal.
EVEN TRUMP WILL HAVE TO BOW to urging from scientists to maintain social distancing for months to come, which will be a game-changer for the lucrative sports industry. Wearing masks and using Purell will be a given, but can you envision
a sold-out crowd at Yankee Stadium in June? We can’t; it’s too risky.
THE TIPOFF WILL COME FROM SOCCER-MAD EUROPE, still traumatized by thousands of deaths. We think it’s unlikely that Real Madrid or Manchester United will have huge crowds this summer — or any crowds.
PERHAPS IT HASN’T SUNK IN that enormous changes will stay in place until a vaccine is readily available, at least a year away. Americans are impatient — that certainly applies to us — and we will eagerly go to restaurants later this spring, where social distancing is possible.
BUT IT’S NOT GOING TO BE POSSIBLE AT FOOTBALL games this fall, where 80,000 people simply cannot be jammed into an Alabama-Auburn game without inevitable infections.
THE GREAT RISK, OF COURSE, IS A SECOND WAVE of this horrible disease. It could come if people return too quickly to work in May, or it could come this fall as schools re-open and football returns. The virus is unforgiving: South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem scoffed at mandatory restrictions, and now her state is a hot zone.
SORRY TO BE A BUZZ-KILL this morning, because the numbers are looking better — infections are falling, the public is generally cooperating, and the economy will respond to massive monetary and fiscal stimulus.
BUT DR. FAUCI AND THE SCIENTISTS will make it clear that thousands of people cannot be packed together — sweating and sneezing in the bleachers at Fenway Park — until we’re out of the woods on new infections. And we won’t be out of the woods in May, or June, or perhaps much longer.
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