PONTIFICATING FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE – JULY 6
By Leo Haggerty

BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SPORTS AND SCHOOL

As we watch the professional and collegiate sports teams rev up to resume, or start, play as soon as late July, the “powers that be” across the country are equating that with opening schools throughout the country.  If sports can resume, surely schools can do the same.  it’s the same equation, right?

To borrow the phrase used by Bruce Willis in the movie Die Hard, and that is such an appropriately title with the pandemic still raging in the USA, “Wrong answer, Hans!” Let me make it crystal clear as to why they are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

It is painfully obvious that the leagues, both professional and college alike, are willing to risk someone, or a couple of people, connected with that team making “the ultimate sacrifice” so sports can be played.  Does it pain you as much as it does me to even bring that to your attention?

I would bet the next few house payments that every professional sports league has already devised a scenario as to what they will do when, not if, one of their players or coaches or team personnel dies.  If they haven’t, they’re the dumbest people on the planet and you know that’s not the case.  Trust me when I tell you, this has already been addressed and there’s a plan to deal with it when it occurs.

Why do I say that, you ask?  That’s because the odds of it happening are astronomically high.  Already close to 130,000 people in the United States have died from the effects of Covid-19.  You don’t need Mr. Spock to inform you that it’s illogical to believe sports are immune from effects of the virus.

So, how will pro sports deal with an untimely death?  First off, and this is terrible to even put into print, all the leagues hope that not one of the “faces of their sport” meet their demise due to participating in an athletic event.  There’s a lot of difference between the 3rd line right wing or the utility outfielder or the reserve quarterback or the 2nd team post player passing away as opposed to Alex Ovechkin or Mike Trout or Tom Brady or LeBron James succumbing to the coronavirus.  That’s a sad, but true, statement when we are talking about a human life.

Then, the team will name an award or school or community center in their honor. The league will provide financial assistance to the family as well as creating a college trust fund for the children.

They will do all the right things to try and help out.  The problem is that they cannot bring that person back to life to return to their family.

Most probably, the NCAA  has had  discussions with their member institutions about the same problem.  When it occurs, look for the same basic response as the pro leagues.  Monetary payments to their families and scholarships started in their names.

So, what do we see if this comes to fruition?  The professional and collegiate sports entities are willing to accept “collateral damage” as a tradeoff for bringing sports back to the American public. The reward of playing so fans can watch far outweighs the risk of a few people “taking one for the team” so to speak.

Now, that same axiom should apply when it comes to opening schools in the fall.  If we lose a miniscule amount of students or teachers or school personnel, that’s acceptable.  The few will bear the brunt for the good of the many, right?

Let me inform anyone who will listen that’s not how we “play the game” in education. There is no such thing as “collateral damage” when you are dealing with “our most precious resource” and that’s our children.

One death, one single death, that’s caused by someone who was forced to attend school is unacceptable.  End of conversation on that point.

The ONLY way schools should open is if every safety guideline that has been established is followed with no deviations.  ALL people at the school site must wear masks or face coverings at all times.  Social distancing MUST be practiced whenever possible.  Students and employees that are exhibiting ANY Covid-19 symptoms need to be encouraged to stay home.  Contact tracing MUST be instituted to identify those individuals that have been exposed to people that have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Local officials can’t just put a bag over their head and ignore the situation as state and federal politicians are doing.  This isn’t business as usual.  They need to step up and take President Bush’s “No Child Let Behind” initiative and enhance it to “No Child Will Die” on my watch.

That needs to be the mantra across the country from sea to shining sea.  Nothing more and nothing less.

No Superintendent and/or School Board member wants to stand in front of a camera with a microphone shoved in their face and have to answer the question as to why someone passed away because the school wasn’t a safe place to be.  Trust me, one wants to have to answer to that.  Would you?  I sure wouldn’t.

Now, as Paul Harvey would exclaim, you know the rest of the story as to how starting sports and opening schools are not similar.  As you can see, there’s simply no comparison because they’re as different as night and day..

Any questions?  Then, class dismissed.