Andrew Cuomo’s seeming competence during the coronavirus pandemic has generated waves of positive press for the New York governor, and has even spurred talk of the possibility of him being Joe Biden’s running mate, even though Biden has said he plans to select a woman. Never mind that his record is generally cringeworthy, or that on COVID-19 issues, he’s well behind California’s Gavin Newsom and Washington’s Jay Inslee.
Cuomo is the man of the hour.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is a moron, and continues to show as much every day, up to and including having the Florida surgeon general removed from a coronavirus briefing for being honest. While other governors are seizing the spotlight and garnering plaudits for their handling of the crisis, DeSantis, who is responsible for who knows how many unwitting coronavirus infections as a result of his refusal to close beaches, is taking a nosedive in the polls.
Aside from being governors, Cuomo (Democrat) and DeSantis (Republican) might not seem to have much in common, but there is something that ties them together in this moment: sports.
Tuesday morning, Cuomo mused about how he misses watching sports on television and wondered why there can’t be games played without crowds. DeSantis, meanwhile, is helping to provide such a product, as Florida deemed professional wrestling to be an “essential business”, allowing the WWE to continue to produce shows out of its Performance Center in Orlando.
Of course, there’s more to DeSantis’ decision than just feeding people’s passion for suplexes and piledrivers. It’s not exactly difficult to connect the dots from DeSantis to the McMahon family, as now-not-listed-as-an-executive-on-the-website but extremely WWE matriarch Linda McMahon, formerly in the Trump cabinet as head of the Small Business Administration, now chairs America First Action. Could that SuperPAC eventually help fund DeSantis’ bid for re-election or pursuit of another office? Is the water wet at those beaches DeSantis wouldn’t close?
Whether it’s out of a desire to just have games to watch, or whether it’s in-plain-sight corruption to benefit a political power broker, the awfulness of every idea to put on sports right now should be beyond obvious.
WWE was deemed an essential business on the same day it put out a press release confirming that one of its employees tested positive for COVID-19. Major League Baseball’s idiotic Arizona Plan continues to be taken as a real possibility, while at the same time acclaimed sports photographer Anthony Causi is dead from coronavirus and is being mourned across the sports world.
Even in “empty” arenas, there are people required, beyond just athletes, to stage professional sporting events. And even if it was “just athletes”, how is OK to suggest that those athletes should risk their health — and the health of anyone they come into contact with — for Andrew Cuomo’s entertainment? Isn’t his own brother sick and living in his basement because of COVID-19? The disease is so highly contagious that New York buses are boarding in the back to try to protect drivers. But athletes, who are a big part of why we finally started taking this virus seriously, should just throw their bodies at one another?
Roman Reigns, WWE star and cancer survivor, has already said hell no to that, and good for him. Phillies pitcher Zack Wheeler says he won’t abandon his wife and soon-to-be-born child to play quarantine baseball, and good for him.
The athletes alone won’t be able to stop sports from returning, if that’s the call. What’s truly galling is that those making the call do not seem to be taking any time to think about the fact that these athletes are humans — people with families, friends, and their own health to protect.
Wrestlers might be characters, but it’s real people who play those characters. It’s real people who operate the cameras. It’s real people who make sure the arena, even without fans, is ready for action. And it’s real people who will have to clean up after everyone.
An essential business is one without which people would die. So, yes, Andrew Cuomo might miss watching games on television and Ron DeSantis might like to curry favor with the head of a GOP superPAC, but those are not things that make sports worth risking more lives.