When it comes to the coronavirus, there is one certainty that can be gathered from almost two years of living with the virus: that here and there may not appear particularly similar to one another.
When the initial wave of the pandemic rushed through New York City, it was easy for someone in, say, Medicine Lodge, Kan., to shrug and wonder what all the fuss was about this coronavirus — that is, until it swept through the plains a couple of months later, when it went through the plains.
Sports have not been free from the newest wave of the virus, which has been sparked by the Delta and Omicron varieties and is spreading throughout the United States from east to west at a rate of more than 300,000 new cases per day, more than tripling in the previous two weeks.
The National Football League, which had three games delayed earlier this month due to viral breakouts, had 96 players test positive for the virus on Monday, according to the league. Hundreds of National Hockey League games have been postponed or cancelled, and the league halted operations last week. Seven of the National Basketball Association’s 30 head coaches are out due to different virus-related issues, with Doc Rivers of the Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone, whose team’s game against Golden State was postponed, being the latest to be ruled out on Thursday.
Hundreds of men’s and women’s basketball games have been cancelled or postponed, and several teams have played with fewer players than usual — such as Seton Hall, which played without six players in a tight defeat to Providence on Wednesday. In addition, seven football schools have been forced to withdraw from bowl games due to viral epidemics among their squads. One of them, the University of California-Los Angeles, withdrew from the Holiday Bowl only hours before the game’s planned beginning on Tuesday.
Most of the teams who were unable to compete were shortly overrun by outbreaks of the disease. One athlete from Boston College tested positive immediately before the team travelled for the Military Bowl in Annapolis, Maryland, on December 22. He was left out in the cold. By December 25, a greater number of players had tested positive. On Sunday, there were even more people. Because of the illness, injuries, transfers, and opt-outs, the school determined that it could not safely play the game planned for Monday because of the large number of players who were unable to participate.
Position meetings were relocated to the indoor practise field at Virginia, where the garage doors on two sides of the facility can be pulled up to allow for greater ventilation and more natural light. It was decided to install flat displays on the walls, foldable seats in clusters, and projectors in strategic locations. In spite of this, a small number of positive tests last week compelled the whole squad to undergo testing on Christmas Day. It was determined on Sunday morning that the team had received enough good results to withdraw from the Fenway Bowl, which had been set for the following Wednesday.
“What we’re seeing is a lot of dissatisfaction and tiredness,” said the trainer, who requested anonymity because the subject matter was too politically charged to discuss publicly. A lot of education and re-education of where you’re at is required, and this must be done again, over and over and over again. People would sometimes stare at you as though to say: ‘What are you talking about?’ Last month, you told us something very different.”
As a result, the games have been legally protected. Because practises have been closed to the press media since Tuesday — including the normal 15 minutes or so when camera crews take film of players stretching — there will be no monitoring to see if anybody is absent, which might lead to concerns about why they aren’t present. Media sessions have been conducted through the internet and have been, shall we say, curated.
Accordin to Scottie Rodgers, the Cotton Bowl’s spokeswoman, all transcripts are adjusted “for accuracy as well as to ensure that the quotations included offer significant information.”
Rodgers did not reply to a follow-up email in which I inquired as to why queries concerning the coronavirus were not deemed meaningful information. There was, however, a great deal of back-and-forth in the transcripts over the virtues of the particular chilli from the Cincinnati area’s cuisine.