Well, here we are. No baseball, no sports, not much of anything that draws large crowds for the foreseeable future. It’s a difficult time in America right now as the country grapples with the outbreak of a virus that is spreading quickly and places an entire generation of people at high risk.
It’s unfortunate for a number of reasons and, understandably, the delay and possible restructuring of the baseball season is one of them. I myself had been looking forward to the beginning of big-league games. Not only that but I was start to get into college baseball during Spring Training, which has now been canceled as we try to slow the spread of the virus. This sucks. There’s no other way to put it. So many plans that I had in the next coming month, including baseball, travel, and simply working, have been disrupted thanks to this. But, really, what’s going on right now is bigger than my own selfish wants and desires.
I understand that the overall mortality rates of the virus are low, but almost everyone has someone who could possibly be affected by this. My mother and my in-laws, both of whom I love very much, are over 70 and are at risk should they catch it. One of my co-workers and very good friends has a compromised immune system and recently had surgery, placing her at high risk even though she’s in her thirties. People you know and are connected to could potentially become very ill from this.
While I do agree that there is a sense of panic right now that is somewhat overblown, I do not believe that practicing responsible health habits and social distancing is some kind of grand hoax being perpetuated by “the media” in order to drive up ratings. This virus is spreading rapidly and people can be infected for days without showing any signs of it, making it extremely easy to spread. While you personally might just go down with flu-like symptoms for a few days before bouncing back, someone you infect may not be so lucky.
The problem isn’t just about high-risk people avoiding large gatherings. The virus can spread silently into our communities from otherwise normal and healthy individuals. A child who comes home from school and infects the grandmother who watches her in the afternoon is a vector. The son who brings groceries to his elderly parents so that they can avoid the crowds at the store is another one. There are hundreds of different types of situations that may seem innocuous but can spread the virus to people who are trying to separate from others, and holding large public events only further exacerbates that.
Even if baseball tried to still hold games in alternate locations that only makes it easier to spread from centers of high infections to those of lower. Fans with disposable income may very well decide to travel across the country to watch games in-person. All it takes is one infected individual displaying no symptoms to travel to a place with little to no infections and suddenly there’s a whole new outbreak in a section of the country. That risks all the people they travel with and then interact with at the ballpark, all just to watch a game.
At the end of the day this isn’t about you or me, it’s about us. It’s about protecting those we love who have a higher chance of succumbing. I understand the disappointment, but I will gladly trade a couple months of boredom as sports are put on hold in exchange for my daughter having her grandparents around to play with. That is more important than sports will ever be.
Part of society is protecting others, including the least of us, and that’s what the cancellations are all about. I am astounded at the number of people I have seen who are willing to shrug their shoulders about anyone dying. As if the pain and sorrow of losing parents or grandparents is somehow not a big deal in the face of losing a month or two of baseball.
Not only that, but if an entire generation gets sick then hospitals could be overrun and suddenly there’s not enough care for people who are not infected but need to be hospitalized for other reasons. It could very well lead to a cascade effect that effects our country’s entire healthcare system. That’s an extreme example, of course, but why risk such pain and suffering just so we can watch some baseball?
Really, what it comes down to is that baseball is just a game. A beautiful game that evokes a lot of emotion, most of it pleasant, but a game nonetheless. At the core of it all it’s really just another form of entertainment and, without it, we can find other ways to distract ourselves in the evenings. What matters now is slowing the spread of the virus and protecting those we care about.
Baseball will still be there once this all passes. Men will still dress in pajamas and wave sticks at balls so we can all cheer and enjoy our summer afternoons. But what’s more important right now is ensuring the safety of people that someone loves and cares about, even if you do not. To think otherwise is selfish and places your personal wants above the safety of others. There should be no place for that in a modern society.
Please stay informed, stay healthy, and practice good habits. I promise that baseball can wait.