The sports industry drastically changed over the span of a few weeks due to the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Sports fans all over the world are feeling lost and confused. According to the National Basketball Association, the season was suspended beginning March 12 due to the first positive test result of a player, Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz. March Madness, a tournament that many look forward to each year, has also been canceled.
Rudy Gobert, center on the Jazz, clearly did not understand the severity of the coronavirus. This was made obvious when he decided to disrespectfully touch each microphone at a press conference. Gobert set a poor example as a professional athlete by acting in an insensitive and immature way. According to The Huffington Post, Gobert made fun of the NBA for wanting to enforce “social distancing” rules during interviews between players and reporters. Just two days later, Gobert was declared the first NBA player to test positive for COVID-19.
After the confirmation of Gobert’s test results, he decided to make a public apology regarding his actions via Instagram. I believe an apology was necessary whether he tested positive or not. If the situation was different and Gobert tested negative, his actions were still hurtful towards others.
Gobert’s post included the words, “The first and most important thing is that I would like to publicly apologize to the people I may have endangered. At the time, I had no idea I was even infected. I was careless and make no excuse.”
Gobert’s actions were extremely inappropriate and careless, being that the coronavirus pandemic is affecting large populations across the globe. Gobert’s apology to the public revealed the embarrassment and regret he had for his actions. He acted extremely selfishly, being that many of the reporters who were present at the press conference had to get tested out of precaution. Following Gobert’s test, Jazz player Donovan Mitchell also tested positive for COVID-19. According to The Washington Post, a child who received an autograph from Gobert also tested positive. After Gobert, other NBA players tested positive as well, including Marcus Smart on the Boston Celtics, Kevin Durant on the Brooklyn Nets and Christian Wood on the Detroit Pistons, as well as other players who, according to Forbes, remain unnamed. This shows how easily the virus can spread, and how seriously it must be taken. Although many sports fans feel lost, I believe the suspension of the season was necessary in helping to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
The Washington Post quotes Gobert, “I hope my story serves as a warning and causes everyone to take this seriously.”
Many look up to public figures, specifically athletes, as role models. Gobert acting in this way was immature, especially since it was live on camera. Public figures have a large audience, and people give them more attention than the typical person. It is natural that our world likes following the lives of public figures, therefore they should act in a way which sets an example for the public.
The dramatic increase in cases across the United States proves that this virus is not a joke, and should not be treated as such. Not only are people being quarantined, but many are filled with anxiety about what is yet to come in terms of their own health, their family’s health and other impacts that this virus will leave. It is crucial that this pandemic is taken seriously, especially as the death toll of COVID-19 patients is rising. If people decide to go against the advice given by the World Health Organization and other public health officials, the spread of this virus is only going to worsen.
Gobert is donating $500,000 to victims and relief funds of the coronavirus, but some actions cannot be forgotten with money. Although it was generous of him to donate money as an apology, I do not think it makes up for his selfish decision to joke about the worst pandemic our generation has ever seen in this country. Under no circumstances should the coronavirus be taken as anything but the serious outbreak it is.