“I take an inhaler before the game since I’ve tested positive.”
When Celtics star Jayson Tatum said those eleven words in April, it shook people. Well, those of us that are still taking a global pandemic seriously, and have always, and still, feel a little funny about playing sports during times like these. A 23-year-old two-time All-Star that was coming off an All-NBA season and was in the best shape of his life couldn’t breathe the same way anymore. And if that didn’t wake you up, nothing would.
“This has kind of helped with that and opened up my lungs and, you know, I never took an inhaler before. So that’s something different. I for sure feel better now than I did a month ago.”
With the help of an inhaler, Tatum can still play. That’s not the case for New York Liberty guard Asia Durr.
“I haven’t been able to [practice basketball],” Durr told HBO’s Real Sports. “It’s really challenging for me. But I’ve talked to doctors and they’ve told me I’m not cleared yet. I’m not cleared to be able to do anything physically, which could cause flare-ups ... And that’s what’s really hard for me because in life whenever something was hard I would go and play. I can’t even do that now. I can’t even shoot a free throw.”
The No. 2 overall pick from the 2019 WNBA Draft will be missing her second straight season due to complications from the virus. After opting out of last season, Durr still isn’t ready to play and has been placed on the full-season suspended list. According to reports, she still has symptoms and has lost over 30 pounds.
If Durr’s situation sounds similar to something you might have heard before, it’s because you have. In February, former Clemson defensive end Justin Foster announced that he was giving up football after never fully recovering from COVID-19, which kept him from playing last season.
“Today is a difficult day for me,” Foster tweeted. “But it is also a day of reflection and gratitude. With sadness but no regret, I have decided it is in my best interest to call it a career and hang up football.
“I was born with asthma and allergies that, when active, affect my ability to breathe normally. The combination of those conditions, along with contracting COVID, made for severe difficulty to perform. While my situation has improved, I am not in a position, nor do I see that position soon, to step back on the field. After consulting with multiple medical professionals, my focus is more so on recovering for the long term.”
Hopefully, one day Tatum won’t need an inhaler, Durr will be able to return to the court, and Foster might get a chance in the NFL. But, even still, in the future, younger generations are going to read and learn about what happened in 2020 and 2021 and wonder why we allowed games to be played. By then I hope we’ve come up with a better answer than what we have now, which is simply “greed and stupidity.”