Democrat vs. Republican. Liberal vs. Conservative. Blue State vs. Red State. Wearing a protective face-mask out in public for safety concerns vs. choosing not to wear one at all. In favor of going back to work and re-opening the nation’s economy vs. staying “locked down” inside of our homes until a vaccine or a cure is eventually found.
In the world of politics, the term “political football” is defined as a social or cultural issue that opposing sides intentionally or deliberately hype up endlessly, as a way to gain more public support for their views. And at a time when our nation’s citizens should be coming together to battle the coronavirus pandemic , the country remains more divided than ever because of the politicizing of the disease on both sides.
And caught in the middle is the sport of Pro Football and the New Orleans Saints — whose biggest challenge this upcoming season besides the opponents on their schedule — will be dealing with a variety of safety guidelines as well as those who feel that games in every sport should be cancelled until next year.
From the ridiculous, “over-the-top” fear-mongering sensationalism of liberally-biased and Democratic Party-backed TV networks such as CNN and MSNBC, to the at-times borderline Right Wing extremist views of Conservative-leaning networks such as FOX News and OANN (One America News Network), the on-going world-wide COVID-19 health crisis over the course of the past several weeks, has blatantly been used as a prop by both sides of the ideological spectrum.
Obviously the main goal of all parties involved in such efforts, is to persuade viewers towards their way of thinking or beliefs, of how the pandemic should be handled by our nation’s government and more specifically, the current Trump Administration.
However, by doing so, it means that all of the reporters who are employed by those organizations, are in total violation of the unspoken written #1 rule / priority of a Journalist: which is to remain completely UNBIASED and simply report the facts of a situation or an event (unless it’s clearly labeled beforehand as an Opinion article such as this one that you’re reading right now).
One of those beliefs are that all sporting events should be cancelled out of safety concerns for the players and participants in every single sport, in both the professional and amateur (high school and college) ranks until a vaccine or cure is made available; or at the very least find a better and more effective way of testing for the virus.
Yet much to the chagrin and slight displeasure of many supporters on the Liberal side, sports such as the UFC (cage fighting) and NASCAR (auto racing) here in the United States, as well as soccer in Europe (Germany) and baseball in Asia (South Korea); have already resumed hosting events or playing games, but in empty arenas or stadiums with ZERO fans in attendance.
— UFC (@ufc) May 17, 2020
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) May 17, 2020
Bottom line: there is no need to cancel sports of any kind, just so long as every safety protocol is followed with the highest degree of caution possible, without exposing any of the participants to any unnecessary or undue health concerns.
Sports can successfully return, but it has to be done with the use of common sense and logic — and not by the politicized agenda of the two warring sides of ideology that’s been a distinctive part of our nation’s history dating back several decades ago.
Earlier last week, the nation’s preeminent health expert and well-respected NIH (National Institutes for Health) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci stated in an interview with NBC Sports Pro Football Insider Peter King, that there aren’t any guarantees that sports leagues and the NFL in particular, could completely avoid any possible risks of exposure, to the infection.
Fauci’s statement was one that some on the Liberal / Democrat side took as a way to further espouse their beliefs that the nation should remain in “locked down” mode for the forseeable future; while Conservative / Republicans took it as a sign that the loudest voice, defacto leader, and now-culturally popular and most famous member of Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force, was giving his whole-hearted approval to resume all sports across the country.
“I think it’s feasible that negative testing players could play to an empty stadium,” Fauci said. “Is it guaranteed? No way. There will be virus out there and you will know your players are negative at the time they step onto the field. You’re not (going to risk) endangering (them).”
“Also, if the virus is so low that even in the general community the risk is low, then I could see filling a third of the stadium or half the stadium so people could be six feet apart. I mean, that’s something that is again feasible depending on the level of infection,” Fauci reiterated.
“I keep getting back to that: It’s going to depend. Like, right now, if you fast forward, and it is now September. The season starts. I say you can’t have a season—it’s impossible. There’s too much infection out there. It doesn’t matter what you do. But I would hope that by the time you get to September it’s not gonna be the way it is right now.”
For the NFL and the Saints specifically, the current hope is that the team can resume their normal routine as much as they possibly can under the current safety guidelines by the end of July, which is right when their previously scheduled 2020 training camp was set to begin anyway.
On Friday, the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a memo to all 32 franchises which stated that team facilities in some locations can reopen starting on May 19, nearly two months after a league-wide shutdown was imposed as a precautionary measure during the beginning stages of the pandemic.
“Clubs may reopen their facilities beginning on May 19 if they are permitted to do so under governing state and local regulations, are in compliance with any additional public health requirements in their jurisdiction and have implemented the protocols that were developed by [NFL chief medical officer] Dr. Allen Sills and distributed to all clubs on May 6,” Goodell said in a league-wide memo obtained by ESPN.
Commissioner Goodell sent this memo to teams today about reopening their facilities: pic.twitter.com/037uKybDNV
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 15, 2020
As it is, the Saints organization is uniquely qualified to handle any challenges that might come their way during the upcoming weeks and months ahead, given the fact that the team’s very own head coach Sean Payton himself. has already dealt with the virus first-hand, about two months ago in late March.
Payton was probably very fortunate when you take into consideration that his coronavirus experience wasn’t a lot worse than it ended up being.
Back during that time several weeks ago, Payton had started feeling the initial mild symptoms (chills and a slight fever) of the virus, but he wasn’t having any of the respiratory issues that many people who have gotten the virus have been battling (and dying from unfortunately) ever since.
The main issue going forward for team owner Gayle Benson and the entire Saints organization at the moment, will be dealing with the edicts and local directives within the state of Louisiana and at the parish / municipality level of government.
While Governor John Bel Edwards made the Phase 1 re-opening of the Louisiana economy official on Friday for the first time in almost two months, New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell has been much more restrictive in her requirements for re-opening the city.
Her guidelines for the re-opening — which includes the wearing of protective face-masks at all times — are just one of the requirements that many folks on the Conservative side of things, view unfavorably and see them as an infringement upon their civil rights as law-abiding citizens.
Whether that’s actually the case or not is probably irrelevant at this point, once you realize that there have been nearly a million and a half (1,467,884) total cases and 89,420 deaths in the Untied States alone from COVID-19 / coronavirus; and 2,382 deaths within the state of Louisiana.
As you might have guessed by now, I’m an Independent politically and don’t subscribe to the bullshit hypocrisy of either the Democrat or Republican parties; the same hypocrisy that has Liberals labeling the President as a “killer” personally responsible for the deaths of nearly 90,000 American citizens; while Conservatives label those who wish to remain overly cautious about their health and well-being of themselves and their families, as somehow being “unpatriotic”.
Both viewpoints are equally ridiculous and are completely without merit.
That said, the one thing that any Saints fan out there can agree on — regardless if they consider themselves a Democrat or a Republican — is that they all want to see the Black and Gold playing games this season, even if it means having to watch all 16 of their games being played in empty stadiums throughout the NFL.
Clearly the New Orleans Saints’ biggest challenge in 2020 will be dealing with the “political football” that has become another symptom of the coronavirus…..
Barry Hirstius is a semi-retired journalist, who has worked previously as a sports editor and columnist. Barry is a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the Saints while attending their games as a young boy during the early 1970’s, uptown at the old Tulane Stadium. He is also the proud Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryHirstius