By John Sloop, columnist.
On the first weekend they were allowed to reopen in Atlanta, Bad Axe Throwing (obviously, one of the many now popular axe throwing joints across the nation) saw two customers show up the entire weekend. CEO Mario Zelaya called it a complete disaster.
Meanwhile, in a sport closer to our own heart, Sergio Agüero and Antonio Rüdiger have expressed dismay that the Premier League is even considering restarting. Agüero's logic is this: "The majority of players are scared because they have family, they have children, they have babies.” While the players themselves are scared, they also fear taking home COVID19 to their families. Who could forgive themselves that?
The combination of these two factors (consumers still being frightened to go out regardless of what’s open and workers/players refusing to go back) is making me believe me and more that we might not see any more soccer this season—Premier League or MLS.
I mean, you can “open” your economy all you want, but that doesn’t mean any of us have to show up. Those of us who, having learned to order booze and food from different services, having basically built a home gym, and having great social media access, have less need to go out. Sure, we want to get back out there, and sure, we talk and fantasize a lot about what we are going to do when we are allowed out. But I wouldn’t be going axe throwing axes right now (and I REALLY enjoy throwing axes); I wouldn’t step foot in a bar if you let me (and I LOVE stopping in my local). We’ve developed new habits and new fears. Open your business, and you may find, as did Zelaya, “a complete disaster.”
As for the players, it’s not just a matter of their own fear of going back, or their own concerns for their family. It’s a question of liability and public relations as well. I don’t know labor and contract law, but it’s got to be messy right now. Can a player be forced back on the pitch to earn his paycheck? What happens in the very unlikely event that the worst happens? A player dies. Or his/her spouse does? Or, God forbid, one of their children do? It would not only be a horrific tragedy but, importantly, an avoidable tragedy. Who is morally and financially on the hook here? I don’t know the answer to that question; let me be clear: I don’t know the answer to any of these questions. What I do know is that it would be a very bad look for both league and club.
In a certain sense, this is all just an interesting economic and philosophical question at this point. We don’t know what is going to happen. Afterall, one of the mantras of my life—and I’ve made the point repeatedly as our local community fretted issues like the building of the stadium—is that if it is outside your sphere of control, you shouldn’t worry. There is absolutely nothing I can do to contain the virus, nothing I can do to get people to go out, nothing I can do to affect legal or moral questions. So, I shouldn’t worry.
Or at least the logic that I have pushed so hard that I was once called a bully for telling someone to not worry.
So, I’m trying not to, but I do find myself wondering what I can do as a fan and as someone vitally interested in Nashville SC? There are the tiny things: taking part in NSC online events, continue to talk about the team, asking others to join me? But I would be kidding myself that such steps are going to make much of a difference.
I’m also kidding myself by saying I’m not worried. I am.
The larger question, and one I have a little time to reflect on, is: why do I care so much? Why do I think so much about a world without soccer? What the hell am I worried about? And that’s when I once again have that revelation that, more than a game of which I’m a fan, more than something I find entertaining, the game in general, Chelsea FC and Nashville SC have become very major parts of my identity. I’m sure most of you can say something similar just by switching team names I and out. So, it’s not just a sense of losing something I enjoy doing; I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m so obsessed, so concerned because I feel like I’m already premourning the loss of a part of myself.
I cannot control any of this, I keep repeated, but I’m not optimistic. It’s sad and mournful.
The only silver lining I can find is that this sadness, this mourning, this worry, only exists given how freaking wonderful it all is.
Pain and pleasure. Always coupled in some way.