John Oliver and his staff are comedic and research legends when it comes to their ability to discuss some of the most intricate and thought-provoking issues in our world. From tackling the corruption in FIFA to the Indian Prime Minister, Oliver and his team never back down from taunting social and political issues while typically hitting the mark on their argument whether you agree with it or not.
But their latest episode of HBO’s Last Week Tonight completely overshoots their landing when it comes to something near and dear to not only my heart, but millions globally. Sports and how it’s been impacted by the novel coronavirus.
With nearly every league and entity being put on an indefinite hold for the past few months, many are trying to restart with a heavy emphasis on the health and safety of players, staff, and other essential workers to the game. While Oliver states it was “emphatically the right thing to do”, and no one is truly arguing him on such, he misses the point on how leagues are going about figuring out how to restart.
After taking his obligatory jab at President Trump for watching one or two batters of the classic baseball games being aired and wanting sports back, one that was not thought out properly regardless of your stance on how the current administration is doing, he goes on to back the President for being, “not entirely wrong there”.
This is in light of the sport industry currently losing out on over $12 billion in revenue and causing hundreds of thousands of lost jobs. A number that will only continue to skyrocket if the likes of the NFL and college football seasons are interrupted.
While Oliver appears to understand the economic ramifications of the loss of sport on our societies, he does not quite seem to understand all the proposals league officials are trotting out to ensure the bleeding stops sooner rather than later.
From ripping into Oklahoma State football coach, Mike Gundy, for stating the statistically backed idea that most players will not become seriously ill or die from the disease saying,
“Jesus Christ, I don’t know whose advice is worth the least during a pandemic — but guy who doesn’t mind unpaid college kids contracting a potentially deadly disease so everyone else can make millions, is right down near the bottom.”
He fails to hit the mark on his tirade against sports restarting. This is a far cry from previous iterations of the show, which emphasized a heavy reliance on research, statistics, models, and more. He and his team couldn’t even be bothered to trot out how this disease is impacting young individuals, like I have done recently, or how this is going to destroy and possibly eliminate college athletics as we know it and potentially higher education too.
Oliver goes on to continue to try and make leagues out to be the embodiment of the devil for trying to reopen. With Major League Baseball trotting out a rock-solid proposal, Oliver couldn’t even be bothered to discuss the most recent and concrete plan. Instead, he went back to vaguely quote a league official from May 1st who told the Washington Post, “I would be lying if we were to say we have a good idea…they’re all degrees of bad.”
That was two weeks ago, and he chose to cherry-pick one critic. It is beyond me how someone with a team of dedicated researchers couldn’t even do their due diligence on the new plan. One that emphasizes testing without taking from the general population and isn’t isolating players from their loved ones.
You don’t even want to get me started on how a respected site, such as SB Nation, backs him without doing their own research and just blindly putting faith into everything Oliver has to say on the matter.
Is this a mess? Absolutely.
But for SB Nation writer James Dator to say, “none of this is worth anyone losing their lives over”, is disheartening. Life is chock full of risks and things the population that partakes in sports have a higher chance to die from. Again, go look at the statistics and the resources these players and staffs have available to them.
These breakdowns on COVID-19’s impact on sports is not the perspective we all need.I will put my faith in those in charge of the leagues before I begin to even contemplate the likes of Oliver or Dator when it comes to how we effectively reboot one of the few things our country can come together on.