Team or Vaccine


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Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Ellie Fisher, Staff Writer


Isn’t it ironic that pro athletes play on teams but aren’t always team players? COVID-19 does not pick and choose who it infects, it does not care if you take orders at the McDonald’s in West Conshohocken or if your whole hand flaunts Superbowl rings. Anyone can get it, but some pro athletes are choosing not to get vaccinated for the virus. The Red Sox put their season at risk, Cam Newton was released by the Patriots, and Kyrie Irving is once again stirring up controversy all because of their refusal to get vaccinated.


Red Sox 

A lineup is like a work of art. It is tweaked and shifted until the artist unveils its masterpiece.  Red Sox Manager Alex Cora is an artist working without his brushes. Numerous COVID cases on the Red Sox have impeded Alex Cora’s ability to create a masterpiece. The outbreaks can be traced back to one thing: they are “one of seven teams that have not reached the 85 percent vaccination threshold.” This statistic has left Chaim Bloom, the Chief Baseball Officer for the Red Sox, questioning what he “could have done differently to convince more players to get the shot.” It must also be acknowledged that even with the vaccine, there have been cases like Kike Hernandez, who, despite being vaccinated, tested positive for the virus. Leaving Cora with one less paint brush. A paint brush needed as playoffs creep up.


Cam Newton and the Patriots 

Cam Newton had big shoes to fill after Tom Brady decided that Bay orange looked better than nautical blue. Cam Newton and Brady are very different as both people and players. Brady flew under the radar in college. Newton won himself a Heisman at Auburn. Brady set records with the number of Super Bowls he has won. Newton has made it to the playoffs just 4 times. Brady is vaccinated. Newton, up until a few days ago, was not. 


Newton has been in the NFL for quite some time; he started for the Carolina Panthers for nine seasons. When Cam joined the Patriots, he became the rookie, the new guy, and he had not been a new guy in a long time. Cam was in for a rude awakening because he was going to have to prove himself to a team that already had high standards. Not to mention Newton wasn’t always going to be allowed to do what he pleased, and he wanted to stay unvaccinated. 


This choice put him and his whole team in jeopardy. In an attempt to have as close to a “normal” season as possible the NFL “implemented COVID-19 protocols to encourage players to get vaccinated.” These protocols, if not followed, would have consequences such as fines or required absences. During the pre-season, Newton missed five days of camp due to his inability to follow these protocols. Missing these days meant that Newton was missing precious time to get acclimated to the new team before heading into the season where every game counts. 


Cam Newton was later released by the Patriots. There is no definite reason why, but there is speculation that the vaccine, or lack thereof, played a role in this decision. Newton must have been aware of this theory because as of recently he has gotten his first shot. It is assumed that he decided his resistance to a COVID shot was less important than another shot in the NFL.


Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets

Kyrie Irving: Athlete. USA Olympian. Rookie of the year. Unvaccinated member of society. Kyrie Irving is the only player on the Brooklyn Nets who is not vaccinated. The Nets are stacked, so Kyrie Irving plays among superstars like Guard James Harden and Forward Kevin Durant. Under normal circumstances, it would be surprising if that trio doesn’t change basketball history. Unfortunately we may not see that play out because this trio has turned into a duo because of Irving’s resistance to the Covid-19 vaccine.


The State of New York requires that all Nets players are vaccinated before they’re allowed to showcase their talents at the Barclays Center. Irving refused. Sean Marks, the general manager for the Nets, worked with owner Jean Tsai and made the decision that Irving would not be welcome to play in any game for the franchise if he isn’t going to be playing in home games. When asked about his decision not to get vaccinated, Irving selfishly responded, “It is about choosing what is best for you.” What’s “best” for Kyrie is threatening his team’s success. It is also threatening his financial stability, as he could lose over 17 million dollars. It is a free country so Irving is able to choose whether or not he wants to be vaccinated, but at what cost?