Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Life is more important than a game

Posted on 6 March 2020 by Thomas Clark
Closed stadiums may soon be coming to The UK (Photo by Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images)

The coronavirus has cost over 3,000 people their lives in the past few weeks with 100,000 and counting infected. 

Anything that can be done to potentially prevent more loss of life is worth doing, especially when it is something as simple as playing sports events behind closed doors. 


Sport, life and death

“Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”

Bill Shankly’s famous quote might sum up how many people believe they feel about sport, but in reality is this really the case?

I love sport. 

I read, watch and talk sport constantly, but when people’s lives are on the line it is not comparable.

Sport is fun, a past-time, entertainment and yes it is important but not as important as people’s lives.


A Time for Experts

The UK might have had enough of experts during the Brexit campaign, however this is a time for expert opinion and we should listen to them.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and RB Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann gave short shrift to reporters questioning them about the disease, both alluding to the fact that there are experts in the field who would be more qualified to offer opinion.

Nagelsmann went so far as to say “You’re not asking virologists how we are going to play against Wolfsburg, are you?” 

And they are right. 

Embed from Getty Images


Mitigating a Pandemic

Coronavirus has not yet been declared a pandemic, but as Dr. Juan Dumois, an infectious disease physician at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital told “It is just a matter of semantics.” 

The World Health Organisation’s directions are that once a pandemic has been declared the advice for fighting it is through mitigation.

Mitigation on a large scale involves closing schools, universities and the postponement or cancellation of large events where lots of people are in contact with one another.

Sports events are not vital, it may be inconvenient and disappointing that an event is cancelled or postponed, but by playing behind closed doors someone’s life may be saved.

Surely that is a price worth paying?

Embed from Getty Images


Time for Trust  

There are many faults with governments around the world, but there comes a time when the public must trust them to make rational decisions using all facts available. This time is now.

In Italy the government has passed a decree for the public to be banned from sporting events in the fight to contain the disease.

As more cases are diagnosed in the UK, it may well be just a matter of time before the same happens. If that is the situation, so be it.

Playing behind closed doors will not solve the disaster, but it may delay the spread of the virus.

As one UK medical professional said: “If you can delay the spread of the virus by reducing human contact it will reduce mortality rates and buy more time for a vaccine to be created.”

And that is the crux of the matter, if we can reduce mortality rates then the case is closed.