Jab skeptics range from cross-county amateurs to NBA stars
Just as actors marry rock stars and celebrities seek out other celebrities in the dating game, those who earn their fame through sports find soul mates.
With MMA fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov and Alex Ferguson’s bromance at Old Trafford this past weekend, the celebrity recognizes fame through codes. This is why Roy Keane chooses the brain of Brian Cody for advice on how to manage, or why Shane Lowry and her Claret Jug, or Katie Taylor and her world champion belts, visit the team hotel. Irish football.
So it’s no surprise that vaccine skepticism isn’t confined to professional footballers. He is deeply rooted in the sport around the world, where a € 400,000-a-week footballer could take the same position as a fan of the more modest Gaelic inter-county football team.
Callum Robinson’s confession earlier this week that despite being struck twice by Covid-19, a virus that forced him to miss eight of the last 11 internationals, he was not vaccinated and did do not plan to open in the immediate future a door on what is happening at the professional level in football.
After debate on airwaves and social media throughout the morning, an FAI statement, released yesterday as Kenny’s team was mid-flight en route to Baku, said that although the FAI has “encouraged all players at all levels of the game to be vaccinated”, they must also “respect and accept the right of all individuals to make a personal choice about vaccination against Covid-19”.
This bland statement ignored the fact that the FAI – and its employee Kenny – are making a choice on who plays for Ireland.
Nothing prevents the FAI from having a policy where vaccination is mandatory for international service.
But that’s not unique to Irish national teams, or even the game itself. Sport Inc. suffers from a high level of vaccine skepticism, from outright anti-jab activists to those who say they just haven’t done it yet. American sports in particular are plagued by this problem.
This generation of elite footballers is the best paid, the best prepared, the best informed and the most spoiled in history. . However, a worrying number of footballers refuse to be vaccinated.
Estimates from the other side of the water suggest that only 35% of Premier League players are fully vaccinated, so the Irish Under-21 side’s 75% rate is slightly encouraging.
In the United States, there is a cohort of athletes from multiple codes who simply refused to be vaccinated. It’s built into team sports, where young men trade in what Ireland Under-21 boss Jim Crawford described last week as “conspiracy theories,” but also present in sports. individual.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, ranked in the top three in world tennis, has no team-level captain to tell him what to do, and has made his decision anyway.
“The vaccine hasn’t been tested enough, it’s new, it has side effects and I just don’t see any reason why someone in my age group needs to be vaccinated,” he said. -he declares. Tsitsipas is a very good tennis player. His qualification in virology is not so good.
Team sports are clearly a problem, also with this look at the Premier League and its low player vaccination rates. We have it in this country.
The approach of the reigning champions in the two big field sports is significant. There remains a cloud over Tyrone’s success in the All-Ireland Championship due to their handling of the Covid issue, where Tyrone’s management, players and officials were not initially upfront about how they handled the virus.
The Shamrock Rovers, on their way to retaining their Irish League title, are an example to Tyrone and all other team sports teams. Last month, Rovers manager Stephen Bradley was remarkably open about their issues with Covid – and the club have had two virus outbreaks in their camp.
He freely admitted that with the exception of one player who was awaiting his second dose at the time, his team of players and staff were fully vaccinated.
Bradley said the club couldn’t force players to get the jab, but were reminded that their ability to do their jobs, essentially their livelihoods, depended on it.
The Rovers boss is to be congratulated on his open-mindedness, something which is hard to come by in the sport.
Just yesterday, Munster rugby coach Graham Rowntree was asked to increase the vaccination rate in his team. “It’s not for me to say, it’s not for me to comment on these things. Please ask me more rugby questions, ”he told the media. Rowntree the last sports coach with an inability to read the play.
Relatives of football players and clubs blame a number of factors: the amount of time players spend on social media instead of mainstream media; a sheepish mentality in some clubs where, if the alpha male of the pack is a vaccine skeptic, then other players will follow; an innate selfishness where the players devote themselves to their profession without worrying too much about the outside world.
This is a position that stands in stark contrast to the approach of people like Marcus Rashford, who are capable of making amazing amounts of money and are world-famous but still manage to grasp the reality, or Jurgen Klopp’s position on the question. We have had these violations of Covid protocols by senior footballers in Cork, Dublin, Monaghan and Down. Any advantage the managers of these teams thought they would gain in training when they did so was negated by the public’s horror of the breaches.
There is a solution for sports bodies, where heavy fines and penalties are imposed on those who refuse. Just days ago, Golden State Warriors player Andrew Wiggins, one of America’s highest paid athletes, said he finally took the vaccine because he had no choice, his contract being in doubt.
“The only options were to get the shot or not to play in the NBA,” said Wiggins, who also made it clear that he is the only member of his family to be vaccinated.
Sports clubs and organizations have power over their employees that is irrelevant to individuals like vaccine skeptic Novak Djokovic, who is a lone wolf able to follow his own example. But clubs and national associations may decide not to let athletes decide whether they undergo surgery or treatment for an injury, or receive vaccines for travel to a critically ill region of the world.
As long as clubs, national associations and other bodies expect players to follow orders on what to do, when to train, what to eat and where to be, but also allow them to turn to Facebook and decide against a Covid vaccine, sport will suffer.