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The NFL Should Require Fans to Get Vaccinated

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Few businesses need widespread vaccine uptake to function properly as much as sports leagues do. In a typical American office, you can at least theoretically separate unvaccinated employees from vaccinated ones, though it’s not entirely clear why you’d want to. (The military, the federal government, Disney, Google, and Facebook sure aren’t going that route.) But sports leagues’ employees often can’t wear masks, and they absolutely cannot social distance; by definition, the job requires being up close and personal with people (quarterbacks, power forwards) who work in entirely different parts of the country as well as engaging in relentless travel. Unless you’re planning on tackling Herb from accounting the next time you see him, there’s no question that your job needs vaccines less than, say, the NBA does.

But on the whole, those leagues have not been so quick on the vaccine draw. In lieu of a mandate, Major League Baseball has attempted to incentivize, rather than taking a heavier hand. MLB is allowing vaccinated players far more privileges than their unvaccinated counterparts have and is easing team-wide restrictions when 85 percent of a particular squad has gotten shots. This has not stopped some outbreaks, most notably among the Yankees: The team’s big trade-deadline acquisition, Anthony Rizzo, refused to get a vaccine and was immediately put on the injured list after contracting COVID. It has also not stopped players like the Twins’ Andrelton Simmons and the Padres’ Jake Arrieta from spreading vaccine disinformation (Arrieta also nicely mocked a reporter for asking a question with a mask on). Meanwhile, the NBA announced that 90 percent of its players were vaccinated but has not required shots for everyone, though some teams have. The NHL has announced a vaccine mandate for all employees but is still negotiating with the players association about all players needing one. That’s........

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