Are sports essential?

Gray Hughes

According to NPR, World Wrestling Entertainment, also known as the WWE, was declared an essential business in Florida.


I had two thoughts enter my head when I saw this news: “what?” and “how?”


Well, according to the article (you can find it by Googling WWE essential business), no fans can be in the stands. There’s your “how.” My “what” question has yet to be answered.


This, to me, posed a bigger question: are sports essential businesses? And, if they are deemed to be essential businesses, should they still happen given our current national state of affairs?


When I first thought about this question, I thought only in terms of the WWE. “No,” I thought. “WWE is not an essential business,” and, therefore, it should not be happening right now.


Sadly, though, I was blinded by my anti-WWE bias (seriously, if you want to hear me rant ask me my thoughts on the WWE). I thought about this in the context of other sports that I love, mainly baseball since the season was supposed to start about a month ago. I would do anything right now to watch some baseball.


There’s discussion out there about how the baseball season should — or should not — proceed. Right now, the prevailing idea is that baseball could be played in Spring Training stadiums in Arizona with no fans with players quarantined in hotels after the game.


On paper, that sounds great! It’s pretty much a win-win. Players win because they get to play ball. Fans win because there’s baseball. But then I thought about it, and there are some serious flaws to the idea.


The biggest was raised by superstar outfielder for the Los Angeles Angles, Mike Trout. In an interview, he raised concerns about the idea, especially regarding his pregnant wife and if she goes into labor.


That one really got me thinking. Yes, I love baseball and sports in general. Yes, nothing would make me happier than seeing my favorite ballplayers take the diamond again. But is it worth a father not being present at the birth of his first child? To me, the answer is a resounding no.


Which got me thinking toward a solution. A pretty simple one popped into my mind: those players who do not want to play this year — be it for health concerns or fear of missing out on family moments — should not be paid but add that year to the end of their contract. So if a player’s contract is going to expire in three years and they sit out this season, they won’t get paid for this season but they can add that extra season to the end of their contract, meaning he wouldn’t be a free agent for another four years.


But then the original thought popped into my head again: are sports essential? If we follow the Florida model with the WWE, then yes. Sports are essential. But is a player chasing after a ball (or puck) the same as someone working at Krull’s to keep our shelves stocked? Or a doctor or nurse attending to the sick? To me, that’s simple. No.


Sadly, my friends, in my opinion athletes are not essential employees. Sports — as much as I love them — are not essential to our society. If sports went poof! overnight and disappeared forever, my life might get boring, but society would still go on.


So what are we to do? That is a murky, murky question. What I want and what should happen are two completely different things. What I want is for sports to start up again as soon as possible without fans at first and slowly bringing fans back in once it’s appropriate. What should

happen is that sports should remain on pause for the time being.


Do I like it? No. If this goes on any longer can I imagine a fall without spending Saturdays watching college football and Sundays watching the Eagles? No. I hope and pray that life returns to normal before that, though, and that won’t be a problem.


But until we can assure the safety for athletes, coaches and refs/umps, sports should remain on pause.

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