By Scarlett Beard
New York City, New York
As sports carry on through the COVID-19 pandemic, fans around the world are all the more appreciative of the entertainment sports can provide. Professional football and basketball games are being held despite usually not having in-person crowds. As various COVID-19 vaccines have become available, the question of whether athletes should be among the first to receive it has risen. It is a complex question, and there may not be a right answer. Privileged people who have resources and connections are currently able to leverage their status to skip the line. This certainly includes sports players, who are very well compensated and enjoy many powerful connections as public figures.
On the one hand, the immunocompromised and essential workers need the vaccine more. Athletes are in shape, healthy and strong. If they take the vaccine, sports will be positively impacted, but there are not enough vaccines for everyone yet. Sports are a privilege, not a need, and during the pandemic, people on the front lines are those who interact with others daily for work. This includes people working with children, people providing access to food for masses of Americans and healthcare workers. Still, COVID-19 has created more than just physical health concerns. Mental health is severely declining for many Americans (especially teenagers) who are suffering the effects of isolation, and the loss of normalcy.
Though there are not enough vaccines for all right now, we also have at-risk people refusing to receive it for a number of reasons. Perhaps they worry about the effect it will have, or do not appreciate vaccines in general. Antonio Regalado of MSNBC states that,“According to a poll in October by Gallup, of 2,985 adults, only six in ten Americans said they would agree to be vaccinated with an FDA-approved vaccine." The NFL, NHL, and NBA seasons are all underway, and a lapse in the schedule for games will disappoint millions of fans. The loss of these sports could potentially even have an effect on mental health. Having live sports available would impact a tremendous number of people in a positive way. While we wait for the majority of Americans to receive access to the vaccine, we must remember that this virus is not only dangerous to our physical health, but it is uncharted, dangerous in many ways we may not yet know, and this is carrying a profound negative impact on mental health nationwide.