Ratto: Sports as the vanguard of anti-science


Dana White wants to have a "fight island" for his UFC cards, which until; baseball turned up was the dimmest and most arrogantly misguided idea for resumption yet proposed.

Fortunately for him, baseball floated an idea that would send all the teams to Arizona for a mid-May start because — well, why should Dana White get all the stick for not understanding the issue?

The story, provided us by ESPN's Jeff Passan, claims that MLB, the players union and the state of Arizona are focusing on a plan that would send all 30 teams to the greater Phoenix area for upwards of five months, sequestered except for the games at Chase Field and the 10 spring training ballparks has the potential imprimatur of federal health officials, which means that we have three separate groups who do not comprehend the nature of the virus besetting us all. Passan explains:

"The logistics to pull off such a plan would be enormous and cumbersome on the league side and require the buy-in of players, who sources expect to be skeptical of separating from their families for an indefinite amount of time — perhaps as long as 4½ months, if the inability to stem the coronavirus outbreak keeps teams from playing in their home stadiums in 2020.

"Still, there is hope among leadership on both sides that the combination of receiving paychecks for playing and baseball's return offering a respite to a nation beset by the devastation of COVID-19 would convince players to agree to the plan, sources said."

So once again, we have people in sports who think they understand more about virology than virologists. Or, and this is demonstrably worse, they don't care because the only thing that matters is playing the games with a new emphasis on the word "sacrifice."

In the case of UFC, White's avaricious core is well on display but is not really surprising, since he is essentially Vince McMahon-Light. Baseball, though, is taking White's idea, multiplying it by a dozen venues and 20 times the humans, all in search of all that delicious television and associated media money, because after all, that is the real national pastime, and the respite the games would offer is from the nestling of money in pockets other than those of Major League Baseball.

One suspects that like the NBA's discussed colonization of Las Vegas for the completion of its season, or, according to some Canadian sources, the NHL's potential flirtation of sites that would include the University of North Dakota, this will collapse under the weights of safety, logistics and logic. But it does say something that each league has chosen as its capital-in-exile an area in keeping with its essential view of itself. White is talking about a secret island, hockey is choosing places where 50 degrees is malaria weather, basketball is choosing the mecca of neon, and baseball is choosing one of the most conservative states in the union.

But in every case, the central idea is that the will of the wealthy can overwhelm a disease that doesn't take no for an answer and if history is any guide is only getting started, and that accelerating the virus among the athlete class is deemed by the people who pay the athletes a sufficiently small price to pay.

In the end, no pun intended, we suspect saner and more scientifically trained heads will prevail, even though that has not always been the way to bet during the life of this virus. But the business of sports keeps on plugging away as though it ought to be immune from viral persecution just because TV says so. I mean, Tiger King might have shown people the event horizon of crap entertainment, but there is something worse, namely this:

Finding out that your favorite team might be hell-bent on being part of the growing problem, and that every team's new logo is a skull.