Vaccines are a personal thing, but now are costing athletes money and teams games
Ok, I'm not getting political here, just pointing out facts, at least as best as I can explain them.
For reasons I won't get too deeply in to, there is a percentage of the U.S. population who have decided that getting vaccinated for COVID-19 is something either they aren't ready for or have no intent on doing.
And those reasons vary wildly. Some of the explanations are deeply personal and while you may not agree with the person, it's not yours (or my) place to question the thought process. That being said, some are absolutely ludicrous--from the strange doctor claiming it magnetizes people to TV talking heads on cable networks saying it's bad politics (despite getting vaccinated themselves).
For professional athletes, it has the potential of being an even bigger issue---money.
Just a couple of weeks ago, PGA Tour golfer Jon Rahm had to walk away from The Memorial Golf tournament that he led by six strokes after it was discovered he was in the presence of someone who had COVID-19. His case however was different in that Rahm actually got vaccinated, but the shots were literally days before the tournament, not enough of a safety window for him or or the other competitors in the tournament.
That choice cost him 7-figures.
Rahm has since cleared all protocols and will play int he U.S. Open.
Then there is the case of Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul. The Athletic reported Wednesday morning that Paul has entered the NBA "Health and Safety Protocols" and is not available to play until further notice.
It could be a situation similar to Rahm's or....Paul may not be vaccinated and exposed to the virus. Which would take him off the grid for at least two weeks.
The good news for the Suns, they've clinched their spot in the NBA's Western Conference finals vs. the winner of the Clippers/Jazz series which is still being played. That series is tied at 2, so at minimum, we've got two more games left, which will take 4/5 days. Add in a couple days off and Paul's absence would still, assuming he's not actually sick, be for about a week.
Then there was the whole issue in the NBA's first round regarding LeBron James going to a social event but not getting in trouble and another player having to sit out for something frighteningly similar.
We've also got players like Montez Sweat of the Washington Football Team making statements like this:
Um, okay. The first answer was fine--there's nothing wrong with getting more information. The second, not so much.
But again, it's a personal decision. The problem with it though is actually rather simple. Sweat remains unvaccinated, gets infected and is out. Who besides him suffers from that?
Well, um, his team does. It also likely hits him in the wallet.
Listen, there's no good answer to this. Unfortunately the world in which we live is filled with conspiracy theories and inaccurate information and people who think its all an elaborate hoax.
I don't know if the vaccine is perfect but I do no it is real. Yes, it is a bit of a leap of faith that those who manufactured it, those who approved it and those who provide it know what they are doing and are doing it for everyone's best interest. And it's a leap to assume the shot will prevent me from getting sick.
For me, I will not fall into the trap of believing government and scientists exist to control and track us. That's a movie or book script--not real life. Life just doesn't work that way.
But I also understand that for some, there is genuine mistrust that the shot(s) will actually work and want more information or to see that it doesn't hurt others. Many of the people (but not all) who believe this are minorities who have been taken advantage of before. And that's why I say it's a personal decision.
There are a lot of implications for athletes who not only have to rely on themselves, they have teammates to think about. The idea or risk of NOT getting vaccinated could and in some cases already come back to haunt them. Much like holding off puts your relatives at risk, so does a member of an athletic team do to their teammates who rely on them. Or being a golfer, in the lead going into the final round of the U.S. Open, only to find you tested positive and are forced to withdraw.
More than likely, for most, it will be much ado about nothing. The odds are now moving in that direction. But just imagine a team making it to the NBA Finals loses their star player who didn't get vaccinated and was either exposed to or gets the virus.
Then what are you going to do?