Sports

Do we really need school sports right now?

People line up at a COVID testing center in New York as Omicron threatens to shut down sports again.
Image: AP

The news that an 18-year-old high school student in upstate New York died of COVID-19 earlier this week should be a big red flag when it comes to the current state of the pandemic. It’s not just that the kid was unvaccinated, but that he died after it proved impossible to get him transferred from the hospital in Glens Falls to one in Albany, because the hospital in the state capital was full of coronavirus patients.

As the virus spreads through professional sports leagues, where the vast majority of those infected are vaccinated, the peril for the unvaccinated is stark.

So, while it’s good that in the state of Washington the health department is updating guidelines in response to “an estimated 200” cases stemming from high school wrestling tournaments earlier this month, it’s still not enough.

The new plan in Washington is “required testing of all athletes, coaches, trainers, and support personnel, regardless of vaccination status,” with “increased testing frequency to three times per week,” including “ideally, and whenever possible, the day of the event.”

The state is encouraging vaccinations, of course, but not mandating them, and that’s the mistake. Obviously, there are lots of places doing even less than this to help stop the spread, but it’s not a good sign when even the more responsible decision makers aren’t going far enough.

More non-essential mass gatherings need to be canceled altogether. When there are events, there needs to be vaccine requirements and masks. It should be obvious at this point, nearly two years into the pandemic, but we’re not only no longer acting with an abundance of caution, we’re too often barely acting with a modicum of caution.

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