Risk is an interesting concept and the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the way people calculate risk for themselves and risk for other people. This week I’ve seen that play out in baseball and education and it’s been interesting reading about the risk people are willing to see others take on for them to get something they want.
As baseball went back and forth about whether they should return, what that return should look like, and who should get paid what, it was pretty common to see the hot takes on Twitter about people being “lucky” to play. It was less common to see those “risk yourself and your family for a game” takes in print, but it only took a week of summer camp for them to arrive, and they are exactly as odious as you’d imagine:
None of the players who aren’t playing has earned less than $5 million. Most have earned more than $75 million. That’s a lot more than the clubhouse attendants and bullpen catchers and janitors and cooks will earn in their lifetimes. They can’t opt out. Some of them have pregnant wives, too — working pregnant wives who can’t opt out, either.
None of the players who have chosen to extend their vacation has been deemed high-risk, but most cite protecting people with whom they live. There’s a solution to that.
You might miss a birth, or the first few weeks of your kid’s life, or back-to-school 2020. But you will be protected, and you will be tested, and you will be doing your job.
Because that’s what it is. A job. Players were hired to comprise a team with the goal of winning a championship, no matter how asterisked the season becomes. These players were hired to display their skills and drive an industry.
That is a terrible take on a highly personal decision. It is true that there are all sorts of people who don’t have the privilege to opt out of their jobs for the safety of themselves and their families. But the answer to that problem is that we should build more ways for people to do their jobs safely and opt out if they can’t, not that everyone should put their work above the lives of people they love. I cringed as I read that Philadelphia Inquirer piece by Marcus Hayes, just like I cringed as I read this piece in Capitol Fax today sharing the text of a letter “suburban moms” sent to Illinois Governor JB Pritzker regarding schools opening in the fall:
I am writing you as a resident of IL with 17 year old twins who are heading into their senior year of HS in one of the large Northwest suburban high schools [Redacted].
I have carefully read the Illinois Department of Public Health Phase 4 rules that were released yesterday. Gov Pritzker indicated that children can return to school this fall.
Sure, they can , technically under these rules. But the rules are so burdensome that they make returning to school nothing like school was Pre-C19.
In a large high school, the 50+ person limit will not allow for things such as Friday night football, pep rallies, homecoming dances, band, musicals, eating with friends in the cafeteria — all of which are important for a teen’s social development — which is a critical part of their education. Even “passing periods” in the hallways will become a logistical nightmare.
Given these restrictions, it’s also becoming evident that there is no way that a high school could even have that many kids in the building at one time for purely academic learning. So that means some sort of hybrid plan of in-person vs. e-learning. I will not apologize for saying this, but anything but 100% in school learning is an unacceptable compromise for our children. E-learning was an abject failure this past spring and the thought of students continuing w/e-Learning in any capacity for this upcoming school year is unacceptable.
Our kids have already sacrificed a LOT for the greater good of society. It is time for their lives to be returned to them. All the research indicates that children are not severely impacted by this virus. So, let them go to school. They were “locked in” last spring to prevent the vulnerable in society from catching C19 so that our hospitals would not be overwhelmed. The hospitals met their goals, so let the kids get their lives back.
By keeping kids out of school, our government is making a mockery of promises that were made to society of doing our part to “flatten the curve”. I preached this loudly to my children last March and we all did our part. They now, rightly so, feel duped by our gov’t officials and feel that they’ve been lied to. I do, too.
I understand that some families might be uncomfortable sending their kids back. Perhaps they can work w/the school district for an e-learning plan. Additionally, some teachers might not feel comfortable either. Sounds harsh, but MANY people are returning to work and have to accept the risks associated with them. Why are teachers “special” in this regard?
Please remove these burdensome restrictions so that our local school districts can do “right” by our children,
Look, I get it. I taught for seven years and have been hearing from teachers and parents alike for months now that online learning just wasn’t the same. The problem is that we can’t just return to the “pre-C19” world, because... there is still a lethal virus out there we don’t know how to treat very well yet. Social emotional learning for 17-year-olds is important, and so is teachers' health. I’m willing to listen to conversations about how we get more seat time for students while compensating teachers for that time and risk accordingly. I am not particularly interested in listening to arguments that a 17-year-old needs pep rallies more than their teacher needs their health, or the health of that teacher’s family.
Mike Trout doesn’t owe you baseball and schools don’t owe you pep rallies because other people have had to work in dangerous conditions. What we all need right now is a bit more empathy and kindness in a trying time. I would love for life to get back to normal quickly as much as the next person, but the thing standing in the way of that is the novel coronavirus that has killed 130,000 Americans and counting. The answer to that problem is a vaccine, not demands that other people accept more risk.
Once again, a reminder: Political commentary must meet the following standards. It must be directly related to baseball, it must be non-partisan and it must be non-personal. Any politically oriented comments that do not meet this standard will be deleted without notice. Please do your part, and please be kind to others.