Covid Media Mania: Sports Edition

The road back, starting in early May with soccer in Germany, seemed fraught with peril, as critics—including sportswriters, medical experts, players, and politicians—warned that it was dangerous and irresponsible to start up again. Since then, the coronavirus has loomed heavily over the coverage of pro sports, with practically every case of a player testing positive making headlines.

What’s received much less attention, however, are the medical outcomes. Despite hundreds of thousands of tests, vanishingly few serious cases have been reported among professional athletes. Most players testing positive had apparently few or no symptoms. Considering the fears and uncertainties the leagues have faced, it’s a remarkable story—one that much of the media has strangely seemed uninterested in telling. Why?

The Covid Story That Sports Media Won’t Tell by Steven Malanga

The media and the State both have their interests served by a panicked and terrified population.

Neither is happy with a population at peace, productively going about their business.

Virtually all this reporting exclusively involved positive tests. But even calling these “cases,” as the media often do, is a stretch, because that implies disease or a condition where medical treatment is needed. The truth: actual cases have been rare, at least as far as we know.


Given the media alarm about mere positive results, it’s unlikely that many actual cases would have gone unreported in the press, especially if they involved something as serious as hospitalizations. Yet searching worldwide databases of news articles, one can find few accounts of professional athletes who developed anything remotely approaching grave sickness. In March, 30-year-old Brazilian soccer player Dorielton, playing in China’s second division of professional soccer, was hospitalized after falling sick while away in Bangok after his league suspended play due to the virus. In late April, 23-year-old French soccer player Junior Sambia was hospitalized for Covid while Ligue I was suspended; doctors later placed him in an induced coma. He recovered and returned to training with his team in mid-June.

But with each new stage in the worldwide return-to-play, the media’s largely speculative panic has amped up.

There must be hundreds of thousands of professional players, counting all professional sports worldwide. But the amount of real coronavirus cases of material impact – as opposed to symptom-less incidents – are less than the number of fingers on two hands.

Maybe one hand!

Exactly why sports media have been so uninterested in the success that most leagues have had in getting started again is unclear—but many fans have noticed. Clay Travis, the radio host, sportswriter, and founder of the iconoclastic sports website Outkick, has dubbed sports journalists who relentlessly lobby to shut down sports “coronabros.” In a Twitter poll he hosted, some 77 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that sports media are “rooting against sports coming back.”


Maybe with the NFL’s heavier-than-average players, or with cold-weather virus conditions returning in Europe and the U.S., the media’s coronabros will yet have their day. Still, it’s striking to watch a substantial part of the sports media bet against itself and the industry that it covers. Between the hyper-politicization of the players themselves and the media’s apparent desire to shut down the games, it’s a strange time to be a sports fan.

Conformity with their peers and pleasing the powerful is what’s truly important to sports journalists.

And not sports itself, nor the fans.

Politics and Power FIRST!

Obey the leaders!

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