Playing it Safe Meant Not Playing at All

We owe the NCAA, the NBA, MLB, the NHL and other sports leagues a debt of gratitude for canceling their seasons as early as they did.

An interesting article ran a few days ago in the Wall Street Journal about how a single soccer match on February 19 in Bergamo, Italy, became a “contagion disaster,” helping the coronavirus spread across Northern Italy and into Spain. Here’s a snip from the article:

Atalanta fans were walking into a petri dish. In a single mass gathering, they were about to prove how sporting events could end up at the center of a global pandemic.

By then, the coronavirus was spreading through untold numbers of asymptomatic carriers. Forty thousand bouncing, hugging soccer fans were the perfect vector: Experts are now convinced that Atalanta’s 4-1 win over Valencia was a catalyst in turning Lombardy into one of the worst-hit regions on the planet. The coronavirus was so present inside the stadium that night that once Valencia returned to Spain, 35% of its traveling squad eventually tested positive.

Reading this article brings to mind two things:

First, we are incredibly lucky that the NCAA canceled March Madness and that the NBA, MLB, NHL and other professional leagues cancelled their seasons.  Looking back, I think we really need to thank Duke and Kansas for pulling their student athletes out of the games, which encouraged the NCAA to cancel the championship. Just thinking how many fans could have been contaminated and brought the virus back to their home towns and campuses makes me cringe.

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