Sports' Fear-Driven COVID Responses Need to Stop, Says Sports Writer

May 23rd, 2020 1:59 PM

Months ago, nobody would have imagined that there would be dozens of controversial articles written about an NFL quarterback getting a haircut and a beard trim, but here we are. 

On Monday, the Pittsburgh Steelers posted a video of quarterback “Big Ben” Roethlisberger throwing “legit NFL passes” to teammates Juju Smith-Schuster, James Connor, and Ryan Switzer, signaling that a long rehab from elbow surgery is nearly complete. These passes were followed by a much-needed haircut that was strongly criticized by the governor of Pennsylvania.

On Thursday’s episode of Speak For Yourself, Jason Whitlock shared his opinion that the entire sports world is at a crucial point in their Coronavirus response. He astutely observed that, currently, many decisions are being made out of fear, instead of logic and/or hope.

And he saw this Roethlisberger haircut incident as a perfect anecdote to what he has been seeing take place at large.



“There is risk in sports... Serious injury, in football and some of these contact sports. Ultimate fighting, boxing, whatever. And athletes make that calculation of how much risk is involved in sports. And all I’m saying is, let’s be driven by the data. And the data says, pretty overwhelmingly, [for] young people – particularly healthy young people – Coronavirus is not a death sentence,” said Whitlock in response to rebuttles made by Marcellus Wiley and LaVar Arrington. “Do I mean to say, ‘Let’s go out here willy-nilly and just open things up’? No, that’s not what I’m saying. But we have overreacted to some degree…”

When first injured, Roethlisberger promised that he was not going to get a shave or a haircut until he was able to throw to his teammates again. Logically, this meant that the end of the hype video showed Roethlisberger finally getting a haircut from apparent friend, Carlos Norman, at Norman’s Cut N Edge Barbershop in Sewickley.

What would normally have been a universally triumphant moment turned controversial in these uncertain times, due to the fact that Pennsylvania is still considering themselves in a state of “yellow phase” Coronavirus response (which means that salons and barbershops are still instructed to be closed.)

In a daily press briefing, the Governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, criticized Roethlisberger’s decision, “My concern is just a general concern. Anybody who puts himself or herself into harm’s way is something that I think we have to try to avoid,” he said. “When you go to something like a barbershop, and you’re not protected, I don’t care who you are, the chances of that virus actually wreaking havoc on your life increases. I don’t personally think any Pennsylvanian ought to take that chance. I certainly don’t want to take that chance myself.”

In a response to the criticism, Norman’s lawyer stated that no rules were actually broken. Norman and Roethlisberger are “close personal friends” and that the haircut was given as a “personal favor where no money was received or exchanged.”