Looking to the future: Vaccine Mandates in Sports

Mitchell Brenner, Staff Writer

Many Americans spend their Monday nights and Sunday afternoons watching Football. Others spend their nights watching Baseball or Basketball. Whether you are one of these people or not, you probably have noticed that while playing, these athletes do not wear masks. However, depending on the sport and league, protocols may require players on the sidelines to wear masks. But did you know that this is only scratching the surface of how Covid is affecting sports?

Even if you are not a fan of the NFL, you have probably heard the name Aaron Rodgers. Last year’s winner of the “Most Valuable Player” award, along with his teammate Allen Lazard, is currently being fined $14,650 for violating the Covid-19 regulations. Rodgers and Lazard were seen at a Halloween party unmasked with other players on the Packers. The NFL prohibits unvaccinated players from gathering outside of team facilities in groups larger than three. The Green Bay Packers organization is also being fined $300,000 for these violations of these regulations, which includes them being aware of the party. In the NFL, unvaccinated players are required to wear masks at all times on the sidelines and are not allowed to gather outside of team practice facilities in groups of more than three. Rodgers has also violated the Coronavirus protocols by not wearing a mask on the sidelines and while being interviewed by reporters. 

Although the NFL can fine the team and players, the NBA is much more strict with its regulations. Currently, unvaccinated players on the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, and Golden State Warriors are set to lose 1.1% of their season pay for each home game they miss. The reason for this is that their state or city requires having received at least one shot of the vaccine to partake in large indoor gatherings including sporting events. One of the players that are currently facing these fines is Brooklyn Nets star point guard Kyrie Irving. He has not been allowed to practice or even play with the team due to New York City’s law requiring players to have at least one shot of the vaccine to enter the facilities. Irving is currently on contract for $34.9 million dollars, therefore every game he misses due to his vaccination status will lose him just over $381,000. If he remains unvaccinated the entire season, he will miss 41 home games which will have him being penalized $15.6 million, which is nearly half of his entire contract. 

These sports protocols are affecting many professional athletes, but don’t think that it’s limited to that. If you play any sports considered “high risk” then a vaccine mandate may come to you too. These sports include football, volleyball, basketball, wrestling, ice hockey, and lacrosse. New York City has placed a vaccine mandate on public high school students and coaches of these sports. It is one of the few places in America with a high school vaccine mandate, along with Hawaii and the Culver City School District in California. Although still rare, mandates like this may spread across the country, and you may be forced to receive the vaccine if you have not done so yet.

Covid-19 has been very tough for all of us, and we have all seen it affect us in different ways. Many of us have missed months of school and lost sports seasons to Covid. We have sports back, but that doesn’t mean that we are in the clear. With Covid-19 still around, athletes, professional or not, may need to make tough decisions.