The American sports world is dragging its feet on coronavirus

But there is something cultural going on, something inherent to the world of sports. That same instinct that has seen our president wave away the virus as a normal flu that we’re all overreacting to? You’ve seen that all around sports, from media members to casual fans to your usual dolts. The mindset can be summed up well, actually, by President Trump’s golfing partners as the virus raged this weekend: Several players from the defending champion Washington Nationals, who have Spring Training just a few miles away from Mar-a-Lago. There is a certain play-through-it attitude on display, particularly pronounced given that coronavirus that tends to afflict the old, infirm and disadvantaged. Those who work in sports, and definitely those who play them, tend to be none of those things. Rather than see the coronavirus as a public health issue, it’s one that exists outside: One more distraction from beyond the bubble. (There is even potentially a connection to be made to the NFL’s failure to confront its concussion crisis for decades, and even still today; sports are obsessed with toughness, and injuries, and illness, is something that happens to others – to the weak.) The people in control will act only when they absolutely have to.

It would seem that a breaking point will arrive when one of these leagues blinks, cries uncle and makes a sweeping change to current policy. If this virus plays out the way it’s looking like it might, that could set into motion a chain reaction of cancellations. But right now, every financial incentive and every cultural bias is telling the leagues to wait as long as humanly possible to make a move. By then, it may be too late.