The NHL is still acting like the league will come back by summer time. I am here to tell you even if they can, they shouldn’t. There are a few reasons why, but let’s go with the obvious one: covid-19 is passed via aerosol and hockey players are constantly spitting and being gross humans never mind always breathing near each other. It would be insanely dumb on a practical level.
The other reason is a lot more practical and heady: these are insanely hard times for people. Lots of people are losing their jobs, taking pay cuts (please subscribe to your local paper if you can), or not sure if their job will be there next week. It is stressful and horrible. Usually sports would be the perfect way to allow people to escape except sports takes away from all that we need people to be doing right now. We need hospitals to be as empty as possible so that when more covid-19 patients need care they can receive it without others losing it, frontline workers can get some rest, and no carer is taken away to an unnecessary event elsewhere using up those precious resources.
But the most important reason is something you have probably heard about social (or physical) distancing. This is the whole part of staying two metres away from someone who is not living with you and staying the fork home. If you look at these two key actions we can take, you realize that sports do not work anymore. People are close to each other, players are close to each other, people are definitely not staying the fork home, and it can lead to a deadly outbreak that can overrun a hospital system.
It sounds bleak and it might be, but it aligns with an event tied to the Spanish Flu. Philadelphia hosted a Liberty Parade to sell war bonds and ended up infecting the city to the tune of 47 000. On the other hand, St. Louis practiced social distancing and were able to somewhat control the flu. The Spanish Flu, like covid-19, was extremely contagious so the same measures that St. Louis was taking in 1918 are useful again today. And those measures mean sports are not important anymore.
Sports are full of people breathing moistly. They are full of potential injuries. Any sports league that plans on re-starting is doing so by moving players into what can only be described as compounds where they live full-time probably without their families. Not only will players be there, but team staff as well. They will be in close contact with each other and be susceptible to illness.
Part of the issue is this is putting lives needlessly at risk. It is bad enough that economies are re-opening while cases are still growing in areas. Sports should be far down the line on businesses to re-open. We see businesses who have gotten the okay to re-open only do so slowly once they have everything figured out including supplies and how to keep their employees and customers as safe as possible.
The responsible thing to do is accept that there will be a lot of money lost in all of this. Accept that the environment has changed too much and not enough is known about the risks to send people out for a frivolous game. Workers are currently being potentially exposed to a deadly virus while working at grocery stores and other services we need. We do not need to potentially expose more people for a (stupid) game.
If the NHL was a responsible citizen who cared about their players and employees, they would cancel the rest of the season and host an entry draft. Anything else is irresponsible and puts far too many people at needless risk for two hours of fun.