Positive COVID-19 Test Results Are Everywhere

A lot can change in a matter of weeks.

Jim Rome
June 25, 2020 - 10:07 am
Ezekiel Elliott

USA Today


There’s quite a juxtaposition going on right now. And yes, I did just open the first take of the show with A BIG ASS word “juxtaposition.”

There is quite a juxtaposition going on right now. On one hand, you have professional sports leagues preparing to return. MLB players are expected to report to training camp in a number of days. The NHL is likely to follow after that. Major League Soccer preparing for a tournament in Florida to re-start their season.

The NBA is getting its bubble, err, campus together in Orlando. The NFL is scheduled to open training camps before the end of July.

BUT…. At the same time, positive test results are everywhere. Florida, Texas, and California all reported new daily records yesterday. Nationally, the US reported nearly 39,000 new cases yesterday, which is another record.

And sports have not been immune. FAR FROM IT. On the PGA Tour, Cameron Champ as well as caddies Ricky Elliott and Ken Comboy have tested positive since arriving in Connecticut for the Travelers Championship. Elliott caddies for Brooks Koepka, who also withdrew from the tournament, along with his brother, Chase Koepka. Comboy caddies for Graeme McDowell, who withdrew as well. Webb Simpson, who won the RBC Heritage on Sunday, also withdrew.  

Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported on Sunday that Major League Baseball had 40 players and staff members test positive last week. The league reportedly closed all spring training facilities last week as a response.

According to reports, Sacramento Kings players Buddy Hield, Jabari Parker and Alex Len announced tested positive. So did Malcolm Brogdon of the Pacers. They join two Phoenix Suns and Nikola Jokic among the NBA players who’ve tested positive.

I could go on, listing each sport and the people who have tested positive in just the last week, but you get the point.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that Disney workers are petitioning Disney World not to reopen to the public in July, which is kind of awkward, since that’s where the NBA bubble will be.

The NFL announced the Hall of Fame game would be cancelled and the Hall of Fame inductions will be postponed until next year. That makes sense. I hate it for the guys who were going into the Hall that the induction has been postponed, but that really has to be done.

As for the game, that’s not the worst thing ever. This isn’t the first time the game has been canceled – after all, it was canceled one time because the field was terrible.

Ezekiel Elliott, part of the group of Cowboys and Texans players who tested positive, said yesterday in a Twitch feed that he’s back to feeling “normal” but he hasn’t been cleared to work out yet.

And he had more: "I just feel like there's a lot of moving parts that have to be figured out. I just don't know how they can keep the players [healthy]. You gotta put the health of the players first.

"And it's not even so much, I would say, the players' health -- because I got corona, and it really didn't affect me much. But a lot of people have kids -- they may have kids with asthma; they may have newborn babies; their parents or grandparents may live with them. ... We have to find ways to make sure that players and their families -- and the coaches also and their families -- aren't put at risk."

That is the truth. A lot can change in a matter of weeks. I’m no epidemiologist and perhaps with a concerted effort and will, we can get this under control, but ignoring it isn’t a great plan.

 The NFL has had the advantage of starting its season after all the other sports. They’ve been able to take a cautious approach and haven’t had to make public declarations about plans for the impact of COVID. But we’re now in late June. Camps are supposed to be opening up in a matter of weeks.

And if the question was: when will NFL players start to get concerned about their own safety, the answer appears to be: now.

This was Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins this morning on CNN:

There’s the money quote: "Football is a nonessential business and so we don't need to do it. So the risk, you know, has to be really eliminated before we -- before I would feel comfortable with going back.”

And he’s right. Unlike the NBA, the NFL can’t really be put in a bubble. There are too many people to put on lockdown. And that honor system is going to put people at risk. All you need is one person to break out for a short period of time and things get really ugly really quickly.

I’m not talking about this to be a downer. And it certainly isn’t political. I want sports to happen in some form. This is a sports show. I have a vested interest in there being sports. Believe me, as much as you want sports to return, I want it even more. It’s how I put food on the table. And my kids in college. I want it AND I need it.

But I also want everyone to be safe. And I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t point out that cases are rising, not falling, and there are reports of certain states being on the verge of being overwhelmed.

As Elliott said: "Hey, I hope we play. I wanna let you guys know: I do hope that we have a season. But it has to be right. It has to -- we gotta put the health of the players and the coaches and the support staff first. I think that's important."

Yes, it’s not just important. It’s vitally important. And yes, I’m aware that there is huge money at stake and there will always be risk playing sports during a pandemic. But there are degrees of risk that we all need to be aware of. And ignoring the risk is the greatest risk of all.