I need to offer thanks again to Gregg Drinnan for keeping me up to speed on the CFL’s plans to return to the field in 2021. The league’s Board of Governors voted to have a 14-game season – – fewer games than normal – – that would begin on August 5th with training camps to open on July 10th. When players arrive, they will go through a quarantine period before practices and there will be no Exhibition Games. Assuming that all goes well and the coronavirus does not re-emerge significantly, the CFL will end its season with a Grey Cup Game on December 12th in Hamilton, ON. The CFL was dark for all of 2020; this is an important step for the league; hopefully, they can pull off the season with only minor glitches.
South of the border, the NFL took an interesting step with regard to managing the COVID pandemic. The NFL announced some changes to its COVID protocols to include:
- There will be in-person media interviews this year but not in locker rooms.
- There will be fines of up to $50K for violations of protocols.
- There will be minimal restrictions placed on vaccinated players.
- Players, coaches and team staff members are all subject to these rules.
Importantly, these new rules/guidelines/protocols have been drawn up as the result of consultations between the NFL, the NFLPA and medical folks. Many people like to refer to a need to “return to normalcy”; this is an example of a “return to rationality”. Folks with specific knowledge (the medical folks) provided their expertise to the relevant parties (the league and the union) and the relevant parties worked together to get something done in a positive way. Slow down here, folks; I need to catch my breath…
One feature of the new processes is that vaccinated players/coaches/staff members will need to be tested for COVID-19 only once every 14 days. Unvaccinated players etc. will still undergo daily testing. More importantly – to me – is the provision that vaccinated players will not be subject to quarantine based on contact tracing while unvaccinated folks can face quarantines of various lengths based on contact tracing and the degree of closeness of that contact. What the NFL and the union have done here is to provide incentives – in the form of convenience – to players who have not yet taken the vaccine.
Since I firmly believe that vaccines work and since I am totally confident that there are no microchips in the vaccine nor is there any sort of magnetic interaction between the vaccine and the 5G cell phone radiation in the air, I believe this a positive step. Players can still choose not to take the vaccine – – but if something “goes wrong” for them they will have a more stringent set of hurdles to jump over before returning to the team and/or the playing field. Kudos to the league and the union for that.
I have not seen reports about the acceptance of the vaccine among the sports reporters who cover NFL teams. There too, the league and the union have set up an incentive system to encourage vaccinations. Vaccinated media members will have access to training facilities, sidelines and press boxes. They will be allowed to interview players, coaches and team staff members face-to-face so long as social distancing is practiced. Here too, media members can choose to take the vaccine or not take the vaccine as is their choice.
It seems as if I am handing out a lot of praise this morning and that is not the normal tone and tenor around these parts. So let me now cast a quizzical and cynical gaze at an entry in the Sports Digest compendium in today’s Washington Post:
“Louisiana Lafayette’s Cajun Field will undergo $15M in renovations and improvements because of a local hospital providing the largest philanthropic gift in the history of the athletic department.
“Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center will receive naming rights in exchange for what Athletic Director Bryan Maggard called a ‘transformational gift’.”
I claim no expertise in medicine or in hospital administration, but a few thoughts came to mind immediately as I read those two paragraphs:
- Why would a hospital want or need naming rights to a stadium? Is advertising and promotion that significant for a hospital?
- From the name of the hospital, I assume this is a church-related facility and therefore operates as a non-profit entity. [I have no idea how to find out such financial info about a hospital but it sure sounds that way to me.] So, why is a faith-based facility handing out $15M to a football stadium – – as opposed to something like cancer research or autism treatment or even upgrades to the hospital’s surgical capabilities?
- The cynic in me thinks that if the hospital had $15M lying around after the hospital’s medical needs were funded and taken care of, perhaps they could think about the option of lowering some of their charges for care. I guess not…
Now I feel more like my normal uncharitable self…
Bob Baffert is back in the news. He has filed suit in a Federal court in Brooklyn seeking to have his suspension by the New York Racing Authority overturned. The suit claims that he was denied due process when the NYRA issued the ban when Medina Spirit failed a drug test after finishing first in the Kentucky Derby. The suit says that by banning him from NY tracks, he could lose horses assigned to him by owners and those horses would be worth “tens of millions of dollars”.
I would definitely need one of the lawyers who reads these things to chime in here, but my understanding is that “due process” must be afforded by government entities or institutions that act on the behalf of the government – – like a National Laboratory or something like that. From a look at the NYRA site, it appears to me to be a private entity created by the racetracks and the folks that own and run the tracks. If I am correct here, I guess I do not understand the reliance on “due process” in the lawsuit. Whatever… I am more confident about this next statement than I am about the previous one:
- If Baffert had not had a dozen failed drug tests among his horses – – worth tens of millions of dollars no less – – over the past half year or so, he would never have been remotely in danger of a suspension. The NYRA did not pull this action out of their figurative anal orifice; they may have been hyperbolic in saying they did this because of their reverence for the purity of the sport, but they did not pick Baffert’s name out of a hat to make their point.
Finally, since I mentioned advertising – by a hospital no less – above, let me close with two observations about advertising:
“Advertising may be described as the science of arresting human intelligence long enough to get money from it.” Stephen Leacock
“Advertising is the modern substitute for argument; its function is to make the worse appear the better.” George Santayana
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………