Sport The four teams with vaccination friction have started 0-4
NBA proposes new set of strict rules for unvaccinated players
ESPN has obtained a memo from the NBA that proposes stringent protocols for the upcoming season for players who are not vaccinated against COVID-19. The memo states that unvaccinated players "will have lockers as far away as possible from their vaccinated teammates and will have to eat, fly, and ride buses in different sections." Unvaccinated players will also be subject to testing on practice days as well as game days and could be potentially be checked twice ahead of games. Other bullet points, as mentioned above, regarding the limited contact unvaccinated players can have with their inoculated teammates.
Of the NFL’s 32 teams, four of them emerged as having specific and noteworthy internal friction over the question of whether and to what extent players will receive the COVID vaccine. Coincidentally, or not, those four teams have started the year a collective 0-4.
The Vikings lost to the Bengals, the Bills lost to the Steelers, the Colts lost to the Seahawks, and Washington lost to the Chargers. Three of the four were favored to win their Week One games.
It’s impossible to connect dots from Xs and Os to the vaccine question. It is possible to ask whether the angst and conflict coming from the vaccination agitation has caused the kind of distraction — at any point — that made these teams less prepared to win regular-season games, especially when facing teams that didn’t have that specific issue potentially clouding the effort to emerge from Week One with a 1-0 record.
Red Sox place right-hander Nick Pivetta on COVID-19 IL as outbreak worsens
The Red Sox now have a combination of 12 players and coaches sidelined due to the coronavirus. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts; utility man Enrique Hernandez; second baseman Christian Arroyo; infielder Yairo Munoz; and pitchers Matt Barnes, Hirokazu Sawamura and Martin Perez tested positive for COVID-19, while left-hander Josh Taylor and first-base coach Tom Goodwin are in quarantine as close contacts. Quality control coach Ramon Vazquez has also tested positive for the virus.
None of the four team most widely connected to vaccination hesitation managed to win in Week One. In Washington, where coach Ron Rivera repeatedly pleaded publicly with players to get the vaccine given the compromised immune system resulting from his cancer battle of last year, the question becomes whether the team can avoid an 0-2 start with a short week, a backup quarterback, and the potentially lingering locker-room simmer from the vaccination question.
Again, there’s no way to prove that on-field struggles trace to the refusal by some players to get the in-arm protection against the virus. In a sport obsessed with minimizing distractions, however, those four teams have had an unlikely distraction, thanks to the vaccination issue.
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