PONTIFICATING FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE – APRIL 5
By Leo Haggerty
IS FALSE HOPE BETTER THAN NO HOPE
First of all, and I will start EVERY article with this paragraph, sports pales in comparison with what is occurring with the Coronavirus. Hopefully, the columns that I, and the rest of our correspondents, provide you is a momentary escape from the trials and tribulations that Americans, and the rest of the world’s population, are experiencing. The COVID-19 is not a video game that you can press reset and get a new life. This is real and dangerous so, above all, be prudent and stay safe.
President Trump, after participating in a conference call with all the commissioners of the major sports leagues, said that he expects sports to return soon. He also stated that he expects football, in particular, to start on time and for fans to be in attendance at stadiums throughout the country.
Was the President giving the American people the best case scenario? Was he being too optimistic? Was he not telling the truth? Was he just being practical? Was he telling people what they wanted to hear so they would remain calm?
I’m going to choose the last answer. That, ladies and gentlemen, is an example of how propaganda can be used.
Now, before you jump to conclusions, there are ways to use propaganda in a positive way. Let me give you a real life example on how this works. First, here’s what false hope looks like.
Right now, in Florida, school is cancelled until May 1st. At that time, Governor DeSantis will make a determination as to when the schools will reopen.
That is definitely false hope. I’ve been in education for the last 43 years and I can guarantee you this is what will happen. The schools in Florida, and probably nationwide, will not open again until August at the earliest and the governor has known this since the beginning of March.
Even with that knowledge at his disposal, this false hope may be an effective strategy for this reason. If you would have “dropped the no hope bomb” on parents that they would be both parents and teachers for the rest of the school year, panic would have set in.
This way, parents hold out hope that their children will be returning to school May 1. They see a light at the end of the tunnel even though they don’t realize it’s the train coming to run them over.
So, let’s apply the same logic to President’s Trump statement that he expects sports to resume very soon and that he see no reason for football, with fans in the stands, to start on time. False hope there for sure and here’s why.
The best case scenario when it comes to having a vaccine that will fight the COVID-19 virus is early 2021. Also, the pandemic, in the opinion of doctors and scientists throughout the country, will still be with us in July and probably longer.
Here’s the dilemma the President had. Does he “stretch the truth” and give the American people a sliver of hope that sports will be back soon. Or, does he “drop the bomb” that, from all the information that he has at his disposal, we shouldn’t expect to see any professional sports until, at the earliest, Labor Day weekend and probably later.
Honestly, if I had the President’s ear, I’m advising him to give the country a steady dose of false hope. If he’s right, I look like a genius. If he’s wrong, his talking point is that it’staking a little longer to make sports safe for the participants as well as the spectators.
What can it hurt? Give people hope to cling to even if it has a less than 5% chance of coming to fruition.
Honestly, I hope he’s right. We’re all getting tired of watching reruns of March Madness Finals especially when “One Shining Moment” would be Monday..
At least I am. How about you?