The return of sports is a bad idea ethically, politically, and practically

2. Politically. While polls found that majorities of Americans were willing to lock down and wear masks in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus, minority political and business factions succeeded in pushing through premature reopenings. Unsurprisingly, even individuals who are not motivated toward culture-war recklessness have responded to announcements that it is safe to congregate indoors without wearing masks by congregating indoors without wearing masks. This has been disastrous, and cases are spiking back up nationwide. Relaunching some of the country’s most high-profile businesses at this moment would send the exact opposite of the useful signal that was sent in March when the NBA abruptly suspended its season after Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive. On a local level, practices and games create unnecessary transmission risks in areas that may already be running short of testing and hospital capacity.

As a number of NBA and college football players have also pointed out, the resumption of sports also risks undermining the urgency of the national protest movement that many players are participating in—and, as Slate’s Joel Anderson wrote, resuming games also eliminates the leverage that those players have to force changes within their own communities.