Bradley Beal is a damn fool for his COVID vaccine stance. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
Dream as he may for a world where he vaccination status is left alone as a private matter – never mind that the employment that enables him to earn millions is in itself a public spectacle – he’ll soon confront the reality that his personal choice is one that will impact the team and organization, most notably in the win-loss column.
This is something of a make-or-break year for the Wizards, who’ve seemingly had their finger on the detonation button for the past few years waiting for the right moment to blow up the team. It would’ve been nice then for the newly solidified leader of this new look team to use the season’s first media availability to set a tone for focus and hard work. Instead, Beal kicked off training camp establishing that a major focus of this year will be his availability.
In his presser, Brad raised some questions about the science of the vaccine, but really it’s a math problem; probabilities, specifically. How much higher is the probability of an unvaccinated player testing positive for COVID versus a vaccinated player? A lot higher.
Even if we concede for a moment Beal’s premise that the vaccine is unproven in protecting players from catching COVID, there’s no denying that the vaccine is highly effective in protecting players from something equally as tenuous – having to take COVID tests. While unvaccinated players will be required by NBA COVID protocols to undergo testing on game days and practice days, sometimes even needing to take two tests on a single day, vaccinated players will not have to undergo daily testing and will only be tested if they have symptoms themselves.
If the classic basketball cliché is that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, then the update for these current times is that you pass 100% of the COVID tests you don’t have to take.
The Wizards only barely snuck into the play-in game last year, and with more competition this season for the # 6 – 10 seeds, the team has only the smallest margin for error. The WizKids are one significant injury or prolonged losing streak away from finding themselves on the outside looking in to playoff contention. Or, because of Brad’s vaccination status, one dirty hand shake, or one new District vaccine mandate, or one false-positive COVID test.
As the leader of this team, that fact alone should have been enough of a reason for Bradley Beal to get the vaccine – personal reservations be damned. And when you consider how much of distraction this narrative will be from the on-court cohesion we need to be successful – best believe there will be questions and stories about it every time the Wiz play in New York, California, and wherever else similar mandates are passed – the evidence for getting the shot is overwhelming.
Bradley Beal said that missing out of the Olympics due to COVID protocols was “a blessing in disguise.” It’s also the reason why Keldon Johnson’s Wikipedia page describes him as an Olympic Gold medalist while Brad’s does not. Unfortunately, Beal doesn’t seem to have learned his lesson from the whole ordeal. This time, however, it’s not just himself, but also his teammates, the Wizards organization, and the fans who may suffer the consequences of his stubbornness. And he’s acting a damn fool for that.