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Understanding How COVID-19 Made Its Way Through the Miami Marlins and What We Can Learn From It

By Scarlett Beard ’22

Miami Marlins’ manager Don Mattingly looks out from the dugout (Photo Credit: Miami Herald)
Miami Marlins’ manager Don Mattingly looks out from the dugout (Photo Credit: Miami Herald)

Due to a disregard towards protocol and regulations, the Miami Marlins decision to follow through with their season initiated a major outbreak that could have easily been avoided. With this, private schools should further take into consideration the ramifications of following through with a fall season without putting serious restrictions into place.

Major League Baseball (MLB) has a 113-page manual on protocol they must follow, but grey areas still remain. For professional athletes all over the world, the COVID-19 season is drastically different from any other.

NBA players are stuck in Florida, all playing in a “bubble.” Athletes must leave their families for long durations to quarantine and make sure their team is safe. Sporting events have been delayed and seasons continue to evolve as a direct result of the pandemic. The Miami Marlins are a prime example of confusion and a lack of careful action during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It all started when the Marlins learned their starting pitcher was infected. The Marlins took initiative and decided to make a decision as a team. Instead of referring to the protocol manual, they took matters into their own hands. Rigorous contact tracing and testing was done. CDC guidelines were incorporated, and the MLB was consulted. In the end, the game was approved.

There is a lot of contact involved in playing professional sports, as a result of both the games themselves, and the travel. It is highly possible that the particles of COVID-19 could infect traveling players.

Additionally, these players are staying together in hotels, eating meals, and practicing together. This is not only a risk for one team, but for every team in every state they play against. If there are minimal cases, this is not a decision for the players of one team to make. It impacts a much wider group of people who were not engaged in the decision-making process that the Marlins made. Stories like this one are huge learning experiences for high schools all over the country as well as other major-league sports. So what can we take away from this situation in order to have the safest seasons possible amidst the continued threat of COVID-19?

One good precaution is to prohibit team members from playing if they test positive for COVID. This causes frustration for the season, and other players, but we don’t know enough about this virus to reasonably depend on contact tracing and testing measures alone.

Decisions around holding games, especially with proven exposure should not and cannot be made democratically based on what one team wants. It is important to follow a streamlined safety manual, and for it to be referred to by the coaches when they make announcements about games and procedures for the season. When it comes to issues as touchy as health and safety, it is important that authority figures making decisions are well-informed and thoughtful about the calls they ultimately choose to make.


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