It looks like the pandemic and the social distancing, stay at home rules are claiming another victim. Dick’s Sporting Goods has announced that they will be sending the majority of their workers home on furlough. Employees will still be able to keep their employee benefits during this period, however, which is at least somewhat generous of them. A limited number of workers will be kept active on the payroll to handle curbside delivery purchases and fill online orders. Other than that, however, it will be mostly lights out until the economy is turned back on. (CNN)

Dick’s Sporting Goods is finding it difficult to operate without any sports, gyms or basically any other physical activity.

The sporting goods retailer that it’s furloughing a “significant number” of its roughly 40,000 employees beginning Sunday. Affected employees will still continue to receive their benefits.

Dick’s (DKS) said in a regulatory filing that because of the coronavirus, it’s “increasingly evident” that its more than 800 stores aren’t going to reopen anytime soon. It will keep on a small number of employees to fulfill online orders and curbside pickups.

“It is our goal that when this crisis subsides, we will welcome back our teammates, open our doors and get back to the business we love of serving athletes and our communities,” the company said.

As with all of the other stories like this, I would first point out that I’m not cheerleading for anyone to lose their jobs. (With the possible exception of a couple of annoying Democratic governors in November.) In addition, I will offer some rare praise for Dick’s and their efforts to keep their staff as long as possible and keep their benefits intact while they are furloughed. If this works out ideally, the workers may be able to collect enhanced unemployment insurance benefits while still having access to employer benefits. (I asked a couple of people if that’s possible, but it doesn’t seem to be entirely clear. Different states have different rules for furloughs vs. layoffs.)

With all of that out of the way, the reasons that the owners of Dick’s are giving for the lack of business seem oddly specific. They repeatedly cite the lack of sports activity, gyms, etc. for their nearly nonexistent sales. I suppose you could make that case, but what they’re really dealing with is the same as most other nonessential businesses. Vast numbers of people are out of work and worrying about keeping their lights on far more than any purchases to support their leisure time activities. And even those who still have an income are largely probably concerned about going out shopping without a full biocontainment suit.

But there are more sporting goods to sell than just basketballs and running shoes. Surely there’s something else that Dick’s could be selling right now that’s in high demand and driving brisk sales. What was it again? Oh, that’s right. Stephen Gutowski just reminded me of it on Twitter.

That was it. Thanks, Stephen. Imagine if Dick’s was still selling their full range of firearms as they used to and they hadn’t ticked off the entire Second Amendment community with their new woke attitude. Gun sales have been through the roof, and other gun shops have been doing curbside demonstrations and transactions. There’s no reason Dick’s couldn’t have as well. It might have even kept more of their people on the payroll for a bit longer.

But instead, they not only curtailed most of their sales but they made a big deal about how thrilled they were to destroy huge stockpiles of perfectly serviceable firearms instead of returning them to the manufacturer to recoup some of their money and keep the weapons in service.

The vast majority of the reason that Dick’s is closing their doors is the same as with most other businesses. It’s the coronavirus. But it’s hard not to wince just a bit at how much they have damaged their reputation with lovers of the shooting sports and wonder if they might have performed a bit better had they not decided to go all woke on us.