The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Sports under COVID-19

Aug 10, 2020

While COVID-19 is raging throughout the country and a thousand or more people are dying every day, the big-money sports leagues are trying to resume their businesses.

The NBA, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer have already started playing shortened seasons, while the NFL and Division 1 College Football are practicing and making plans to start their seasons in September.

The very nature of all these sports puts the athletes in close physical contact with each other. And since many people who have COVID-19 don’t at first show symptoms, the virus can easily spread from one player to another. Which is exactly what has happened.

As of August 7, over 100 NFL players have tested positive for COVID-19. In College Football, several hundred players came down with the virus, including 37 players at Clemson and 28 players at Rutgers. In Major League Baseball, 18 players for the Miami Marlins and 8 players for the St. Louis Cardinals have COVID-19. And the number of players who test positive for COVID-19 keeps growing every single day.

But none of that matters to the owners and the sports bosses, because they can still make some money off sports. The Athletic Director of the University of Michigan (U-M) said they will lose out on $61 million this year if U-M doesn’t play football. Is there any question why he wants to have a football season?

Currently a football player at Indiana University is hospitalized with heart problems after he got COVID-19. A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association cited a study in which 78 out of 100 people who had recovered from COVID-19 were still showing problems with their hearts. Matthew Martinez, a doctor with a sports cardiology program in New Jersey, said, “We’re starting to find out what we thought was the safer group, the young athlete, may not be as safe as we thought.”

Facing the danger of COVID-19, some athletes are starting to speak up and push back. As of August 7, 66 football players from the NFL have refused to play, giving up most of their salaries. Some baseball players have done the same thing. A group of college football players from the Pac-12 have said they will not play this season unless their demands for COVID-19 safety, as well as racial and economic justice, are met. Over one thousand college football players from the Big Ten signed a statement demanding more protection from COVID-19— “The NCAA … has had ample time to prepare for the safe return of its athletes to competition, yet it has done nothing.”

At the end of the day, it will be the athletes themselves who will have a say in what happens with these sports seasons. Pressure from the athletes, as well as the further spread of the virus, may end up cancelling all the plans that the sports bosses have.