Sports shows the way
When we look back at the last year that the world has gone through there will be a few key images that will be used as indicators of the pandemic.
Healthcare workers with really sick people will probably be one. Maybe a needle going into an arm. Obviously, Face masks.
All will act as visual shortcuts to tell you that you are about to talk about this period in history.
However, there will be another image that, for many, will represent the frustration and disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic caused in the world.
Empty sports arenas.
There are few things that are universal the world over. What’s popular in one part of the world might not have the same impact in another. However, sports is a significant exception to that. Even if you’re not a sports fan, the impact of the sports world is undeniable.
So, when the stadiums went silent in March 2020 it was pretty clear that something very significant was happening. You don’t shut down a multi-billion dollar industry on a hunch. There’s just too much at stake.
On the same front, the return of fans to stadiums and arenas over the last 6-weeks has become an untenable indicator that we are getting back to normal and that we have found a way to ensure that we don’t have to give up things in quite the same way moving forward.
We see full stadiums in Hungary for Euro 2020. The NBA and NHL playoffs in North America are putting butts back in the seats. And, people aren’t dying. How can you argue that we still need to restrict movement and activities when we see people standing side by side singing and yelling and there is no significant increase in people getting sick.
Sports was a negative indicator in 2020 and it can be used again now to show the way out of this.
The Olympics are a few weeks away in Japan and a conservative and nervous population is calling for them to be cancelled. Instead, officials are pushing ahead and are going to allow locals to attend the events. A lot of nervous people are likely going to wag their finger at this and claim that everything is going to blow up.
That seems unlikely. If it was likely we’d already be seeing people getting sick in the areas that are allowing fans to return. We’re not.
We don’t want to be callous about human life, but we also want to follow the evidence as we look to recover from what was an economic disaster the world over.
The next time someone tells you that we need to keep the economy closed, just point to the stadiums. They are full, they are loud and they are safe again.
It’s time the rest of the economy followed.