TV Sports Help Viewers Relax - But Will That Continue In the Age Of COVID?

Professional athletes without vaccines in France? They don’t get to ride -- or hit backhands.

They will be benched -- whether it's tennis champion Novak Djokovic for the upcoming French Open -- or a top road cyclist for the Tour de France that runs for three weeks in July.

Djokovic just left Australia because the government said the biggest men’s tennis star wasn’t vaccinated and/or didn’t have the proper exemption to allow him to participate.

France has stricter rules, now under a new law. Everyone needs to be vaccinated, period.

In the U.S., athletes get a break. They need to be tested regularly on a daily basis if they are unvaccinated -- for any of the big-time sports leagues such as the NFL and NBA. If they test positive, quarantine results.

And don’t even try to fudge the truth, like saying you are “immunized” -- something Green Bay Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers did in response to a question about vaccination. Decoying a football play on the field is still allowed.



No doubt major stars in their respective fields believe they can ride above it all. So did British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Reports found that in his home/office headquarters at 10 Downing Street, there had been multiple “parties” -- all while severe COVID restrictions were imposed on British citizens.

For sports, one might ask whether prima-donna athletes, making their own rules, might affect TV ratings. Rodgers hasn’t, especially for any games his strong Green Bay Packers are in, and now for the playoffs.

It’s a team sport. Tennis isn’t. But it’s a non-issue in any event. What happens off the field/off the court typically has zero effect, TV-ratings wise. The just-completed regular TV season NFL games were up 8% in linear TV viewing over the year before, and 10% when including streaming viewing, according to the league.

Some years ago, many NFL players -- and then athletes from other sports -- were inspired by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the national anthem to protest specific social issues.

In recent seasons, there has been an ongoing pandemic. COVID disruptions aside, the result is that sports TV viewership hardly changed. Actual on-field/on-court sports competition is why we watch.

Still, one wonders whether Rodgers' Packers team goes as far as the Super Bowl. What will be the first question to him after the game? Win or lose, guessing you probably won't hear a peep about any virus.

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