THURSDAY, MAY 13TH, 2021

When COVID-19 shut down most of the U.S. last March, it didn’t discriminate who would be affected: kindergarteners, executives, chefs, and NBA superstars alike were suddenly confined to their homes with little idea of when a return to normal could be possible. 

Sports leagues, including the NBA, decided to suspend their seasons. The NBA eventually reopened in a bubble format with a small group of teams going to one area, quarantining there and not leaving except in the case of an emergency. Players got tested frequently, and no fans were allowed in the stands. 

Though this solution was not normal, it still allowed NBA players to play games and fans to watch games live. However, the league caught players breaking protocol and disobeying the guidelines put in place — and their carelessness may just ruin the bubble altogether. 

Sorry Charles Barkley, but your opinion that athletes deserve the highest priority for vaccines doesn’t hold water. If players are showing such little respect for the guidelines set by the NBA, they do not deserve to get vaccines before students or people who already have diseases, such as people with asthma or diabetes.   

While Barkley does not speak for the NBA, and although the NBA said players will not get the vaccine before the general public, it is clear other people need the vaccine far more than professional basketball players. As unethical as it sounds, money guides the NBA since players entertain fans. Because of this, teams often overlook players partying and breaking protocol because they are money-making stars. 

The NBA should take decisive action when it comes to player transgressions regarding COVID-19 protocol. James Harden, from the Brooklyn Nets, was caught on social media partying at a strip club without a mask. Kyrie Irving and Lou Williams were also caught maskless at strip clubs. Irving also missed five straight games due to claiming that he was switching gears and dealing with more personal issues. He was told by ESPN analyst Steven A Smith, that he should retire if he does not care enough about his profession.  

If a player violates the NBA COVID-19 rules, he should be suspended for at least five games, whether or not he tests positive or negative for COVID-19. And because many players don’t care how many games they are suspended for as long as they continue to make money, the suspensions should be without pay. Obviously, the NBA is a multi-billion dollar organization that thrives on athletes raising viewers, but incidents like these should not be swept under the carpet. By breaking the COVID-19 protocol, the players are not only at risk of infecting others, but they are also at risk of catching the virus themselves. Leaving the bubble for a non-necessary reason is already a negative sign. Then to make matters worse, these players, who are ambassadors of arguably the biggest game in America, are shirking their responsibilities to go party maskless during a worldwide epidemic. The coronavirus is absolutely not something that should be taken lightly, and the players need to step it up or face the consequences. This is not about who should get doses of the vaccine more quickly. It’s about who needs and deserves them. NBA players and other sports stars are young and athletic, and their immune system is probably strong enough that they can potentially fight off COVID-19, even without a vaccine. The people who are already suffering from prior diseases and students who need to go to school and learn, deserve more doses of the vaccine than athletes. 

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