I’ve been off sports since the pandemic began. I’ve found that I can easily live without them. To be blunt, I’m worn out by all the stories about money, money, money. My favorite sport was baseball, but I find it impossible to identify with players who make $20 million plus per year. It’s taken much of the fun out of sports for me. The LSU football sexual assault cover-up story didn’t help matters either. I’ve gone from Go, Tigers to No, Tigers because of that.
My dormant sports interest was piqued recently by a fabulous profile of Washington
Redskins head coach Ron Rivera. I didn’t know much about Rivera previously, but was under the impression he was one of the good guys in his profession. Albert Breer’s Sports Illustrated piece confirms that.
Rivera was terribly ill with a virulent form of skin cancer last year. He had to struggle to get the right treatment. That opened his eyes to the ugly reality of our current health care system: even an insured well-known NFL coach had to fight to receive the proper treatment.
Rivera’s illness has turned him into an advocate for COVID awareness and vaccination. He finds it frustrating that players who can easily obtain help are turning it down and referring to it as a “private and personal” matter.
That brings me to the quotable Ron Rivera:
“I had a player come to me when we first got back and we’re getting ready to go to camp,” Rivera said. “He came to me, and he had a big smile and said, Hey coach, just got my second vaccine. I said, Right on. He said, Had to, mama, new baby, got to, coach, gotta be careful for others. I said, That’s great, plus with that variant … He looked at me and said, What variant? I said, You know, the new delta variant, you know about that?”
The player in question had no idea. Rivera asked if the player watches the news. The player said no, and raised his phone to say, “I get all my information from here.” Which, right there in the moment, Rivera recognized as the problem.
“Gen Z is relying on this,” said Rivera, now holding up his phone. “And you got some, quite frankly, fucking assholes, that are putting a bunch of misinformation out there, leading people to die. That’s frustrating to me, that these people are allowed to have a platform. And then, one specific news agency, every time they have someone on, I’m not a doctor, but the vaccines don’t work. Or, I’m not an epidemiologist, but vaccines are going to give you a third nipple and make you sterile. Come on. That, to me? That should not be allowed.”
The sports world needs more people like Ron Rivera. He’s shown remarkable growth for a man in his late Fifties. Now that he’s found his voice, I hope he keeps speaking out.
I do, however, have one suggestion for Coach Rivera. Y’all need a new nickname: the Washington Football Team just doesn’t cut the mustard. They’ve supposedly narrowed the list down to three. It’s time to pick. My personal favorite, the Solons, is not on the preliminary list. But anything is better than Redskins or Football Team with the possible exception of Armada. Singular nicknames suck.
I guess I still care a little about sports, after all.
The last word goes to Fountains of Wayne: