December 17, 2021


There’s a saying in sports that you can’t win if you don’t play. This has never applied to entire leagues before, but it does now, and it sets an example for the whole country.

In the last month we’ve seen professional baseball, basketball, and hockey wrap up their 2020 seasons. It’s been great to watch our sports leagues lead the way in this strange year, both on the field and off.

The “bubble” seasons that the NBA and NHL ran gave us a really important demonstration that we can still function, even in the face of this virus. The fact that both leagues were able to complete their seasons with no major outbreaks is proof that smart management works.

Faced with so much uncertainty, the quick shutdown and bubble approach of the NBA made sense at the time. But now that time has passed. Shutdowns and bubbles are too expensive to be sustainable.

Fortunately, the NFL and MLB leagues have also shown that a less stringent approach based on best practices like testing and careful risk reduction can also work. Yes, there have been some infections, and they’ve been contained very quickly.

America is in a very similar position. Shutting everything down is devastating to people in so many ways. We want to be careful not to unnecessarily put people at risk, but everybody needs to make a living, educate their kids, and experience social connections. Life goes on, and if we go too far with shutdowns, life will pass us by.

Just like an athlete on the sidelines, America can’t win if it doesn’t play. For now, the virus is still a problem and it has made the entire world riskier. But risk is a part of life. It’s always there, whether we’re thinking about it or not.

When we need to go somewhere, do we dwell on how risky car travel is? No. We don’t ignore the risk either. We put on our seatbelts, watch for danger, and carry on.

This is where America is today. We have places to go and things to do. As we wait for the vaccine, we’ll need to proceed carefully, but proceed nonetheless.

After their successful but expensive bubble seasons, the NBA and NHL will come back next time without a bubble. Almost a year into this pandemic, we’ve learned a lot about how to live with it. I’m certain they’ll venture forward successfully.

It’s up to each of us to decide on our own needs, risk tolerance, and what precautions are worth it. Whatever we choose, we can remember that there is no reward without risk. If we don’t participate in life, we’re certain to lose.

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