December 2, 2021

Sports’ leagues, teams and stars need to tell Cole Beasley he’s wrong

4 min read


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Centers for Disease Control director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said adult deaths from COVID-19 have become “entirely preventable” due to the effectiveness of vaccinations. A study of government data by The Associated Press reported that, since May, 99.2 percent of all COVID-related deaths have been unvaccinated people.

Curious what Cole Beasley’s reaction to that might be.

Fake news?

I wonder the mind-set of anyone still holding out against the vaccine — which is readily available, quick and free — despite science, evidence and logic begging that we all please come together as Americans on this, at least.

COVID has killed more than 600,000 in the United States thus far, the cure is there, and yet fewer than half of us — 46.6 percent — had been fully vaccinated as of Monday.

Beasley, the Buffalo Bills’ wide receiver, dubiously volunteered himself as the face of anti-vax nation last week, defiantly saying he will ignore new NFL protocols (agreed to by the players union) that afford freedoms to vaccinated players and restrictions for those unvaccinated.

He is daring the league to fine him. Saying he would rather retire than get vaccinated.

“I’m Cole Beasley and I’m not vaccinated,” he declared on social media.

“I will be outside doing what I do. I may die of COVID, but I’d rather die actually living.”

(Or: You could get the vaccine and live actually not dying?)

Instead, it’s all about you, right Chief? Don’t worry about sending a terrible message to fans. Don’t concern yourself with your teammates. Ignore that 99.2 percent of COVID deaths are now unvaccinated folks. Just go ahead and make this all about you and your personal freedom.

(And be blithely tone-deaf to how spectacularly selfish this makes you seem).

Beasley out front on this crusade underlines the idea that sports in general have not done nearly enough to push a pro-vaccine agenda.

Leagues, teams and star players need to do much more to support this pro-science, pro-health cause in the same way they have been on the right side of social and racial justice issues issues.

Where are all of the public service announcements? In the void of their absence the silence is deafening. (Like the silence from LeBron James when you ask him if he has been vaccinated).

Predictable as summer rain, groups in support of Beasley held small, sad rallies in upstate New York, using screwball logic to make this political, not medical. To turn it into resisting intrusive government as it tries to impinge on your personal freedom to be dumb.

I need to pause here. There are people close to me who are unvaccinated. The have their reasons. They are breaking no laws. I wish them well.

I am not saying you don’t have the right to not be vaccinated, although I might suggest you have the civic obligation to be. What I would say to people like Cole Beasley is quit whining if moving forward if you have it a bit tougher than those of us who are vaccinated.

If you can’t go to certain concert, take a flight or go on a certain cruise without proof of vaccination.

If you can’t leave your team hotel on an NFL road trip.

That’s all on you. Every bit of it.

Understand that if more Americans had been vaccinated sooner the national death toll be would be significantly lower and the incremental return to normalcy would have come sooner. The Beasley mind-set, collectively, has been an enemy of the people during the past 15 months.

Consider, too: This ain’t over.

The Tokyo Olympics set to start July 23 do so on eggshells as COVID surges in Japan. Just Monday, two members of the arriving Ugandan team tested positive.

There have been a spate of test positives across the ongoing Copa American soccer tournament.

PGA Tour golfer Jon Rahm recently had to drop out of a tournament he was leading (costing him a $1.7 million check) after testing positive.

Test positives this weekend ruined North Carolina State’s chance to reach the College World Series championship.

The United Kingdom just recorded its most coronavirus cases since early February as British Open golf tightened protocols.

The Montreal Canadians head coach will miss the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final while quarantining.

The examples of this not being over go on and on. And now, the delta variant threatens.

CNBC headline Monday: ‘The COVID Delta variant has ‘exploded’ in UK — and it could be a blueprint for U.S.’

CBS NEWS: ‘Parts of U.S. could see ‘very dense outbreaks’ as Delta COVID-19 variant spreads.’

NBC News: ‘Threat of Delta variant looms large in unvaccinated South.’

The need for more of America to be vaccinated continues urgent. The ability of sports to lead is proven. Yet our leagues, teams and star power voices have abdicated responsibility and gone silent.

It is why, in the void, Cole Beasley gets to speak for sports until sports stands up and says otherwise.

Greg Cote is a Miami Herald sports columnist who in 2018 was named top 10 in column writing by the Associated Press Sports Editors. Greg also appears regularly on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz on ESPN Radio and ESPNews.

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