As a certified sports official with both USA Hockey and US Lacrosse for over 10 years, whenever I have skated onto the ice or run onto the field to officiate a game, I have always been focused on one thing – Making the Right Call! Other than keeping the kids safe and hopefully providing an environment that fosters fair play and fun for the participants, that’s what being a good official is really all about. But recently, “Making the Right Call” has taken on much different meaning for CEO’s, sports league commissioners and sports administrators in light of the Coronavirus epidemic.
I was with 7 other lacrosse officials last Wednesday evening as we prepared to do a pre-season scrimmage to get us up-to-speed for the coming season. And then the notices started to come in on our cell phones. No fans at the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Then, no fans at the Big Ten Tournament. Then a different notice; the Ivy League Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments have been cancelled! And then the NBA announces it is going to put their season on hiatus and Major League Baseball is postponing opening day. Well, we all know where it went from there. The NCAA cancelled its “March Madness” Basketball Tournaments for both the men and women’s programs and the NBA, NHL, MLS, MLB and PGA have all cancelled games/events or shut down indefinitely. And as I saw all of these decisions coming down, I asked myself, Are they making the right call? Well, I’m not really sure. Here’s why.
We really don’t know what we are dealing with regarding the Coronavirus so to err on the side of caution would certainly seem like the right thing to do. After all, history has proven that epidemics can be catastrophic. In 1918, a strain of influenza known as the Spanish Flu caused a global pandemic that killed at least 50 million people worldwide! That’s right, 50 million people! The outbreak occurred during the final months of the World War I and soldiers, most of who had suffered from malnourishment weakening their immune systems, carried the disease home with them. In the end, it is estimated that the pandemic killed over 675,000 Americans in total and those numbers reduced American life expectancy at the time by 12 years. Now, if this is the kind of possibility we are dealing with, then the decisions made to cancel all of these events was indeed THE RIGHT CALL!
But, there are two sides (calls) for every story (infraction).
Based on the latest information I could find as of this writing (3/14/2020), we have 2,340 confirmed Coronavirus cases in the U.S. To date, the numbers show 50 deaths from the Coronavirus in the U.S. Of the 50 deaths (that’s 50 out of approximately 340 million Americans), it appears that almost 70% of the fatalities were to people in senior living homes in the Northwest U.S. Also, while unfortunate at any age, the vast majority (almost 70%) of people to die from the Coronavirus were people 80 years of age and older. None of the 50 deaths were to an individual under the age of 50. The global death toll due to the Coronavirus to date is at almost 5,000. So, have government officials, CEO’s League Commissioners and the like overreacted to the situation? Did they MAKE THE RIGHT CALL?
Well one thing is for sure, it is just one more example that we are NOT the ones in control in this world. It also brings me back to a simple formula I have written about before, E + P + R = O
Our lives continue to be made up of EVENTS day in and day out, many of which are out of our control. When we come to the realization that we are living in God’s world and that we are NOT the ones in control, following any event in our lives we need to PRAY in that moment before we do anything else, asking for God’s guidance and direction. When we do this, our RESPONSE is usually one that is done with love and compassion, reflecting God’s wisdom. And when we respond in this way, the ultimate OUTCOME, whether it is what we wanted or not, reflects God’s Will and what is best for us all. Now more than ever, this formula (E + P + R = O) makes sense to me.
Were the decisions made over the past several days “the right calls?” Well, that may be debated for some time until we see how the events in days, weeks and months to come play out. But one thing I do know.
Like him or not and regardless of your political affiliation, Donald Trump, our President, has called for Sunday, March 15th to be a National Day of Prayer. In his words, “We are a country that, throughout our history, has looked to God for protection and strength in times like these.”
We need to pray, and that, my friends, is THE RIGHT CALL.
“The Lord said – I will deliver you.”