News & Politics

It’s Been a Bad Week for DC Sports Teams Navigating Covid

The Nationals and the Washington Football Team both faced coronavirus-related challenges.

"Washington Football Team HC Ron Rivera" by All-Pro Reels is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

It’s been a rough few days for Washington sports teams—and no, this time we’re not talking about the scoreboard.

Just last night, the Nationals game slated to happen in Philadelphia was rescheduled due to a coronavirus outbreak within the DC team. The club’s misfortunes started during Tuesday’s game, when shortstop Trea Turner was removed from the first inning after receiving a positive Covid test. According to manager Dave Martinez, another 11 players and staff members have since tested positive. (Martinez believes only one of the 12 people are unvaccinated). As a result, the squad was forced to postpone their Wednesday face-off against the Phillies—the second time this season the Nats have delayed a game due to the virus.

Nationals player Trea Turner tested positive for Covid on Tuesday. Photo by Flickr user Dave.
Nationals player Trea Turner tested positive for Covid on Tuesday. Photo by David/Flickr.

The baseball team isn’t the only DC sports club struggling to navigate the ongoing pandemic. Vaccines are widely available in the District, yet the Washington Football Team is currently ranked last in the NFL when it comes to its player vaccination rate. Coach Ron Rivera said on Tuesday that more than 50 percent of the team was vaccinated—a paltry figure when almost half the league’s teams have vaccination rates over 90 percent. That same day, offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas was placed on the reserve/Covid-19 list.

“I’m beyond frustrated,” said Rivera. The coach has personal reason for concern: Rivera is immunocompromised after undergoing chemotherapy to battle skin cancer last season.

Photograph by KA Sports Photos/Flickr
Photograph by KA Sports Photos/Flickr

The vaccination lag could impact the team’s record. Last Thursday, the NFL announced that teams will no longer be able to reschedule games due to coronavirus outbreaks among unvaccinated players. Instead, the affected team must forfeit the matchup and players will not be compensated for those games.

Even in the off-season, individual sports stars are experiencing the virus’s impact on gameplay. Wizards player Bradley Beal was supposed to compete in Tokyo with the US men’s basketball team, but his Olympic dreams were thwarted when he was placed in health and safety protocols on July 14. It is unclear whether Beal was vaccinated at the time of his entry to protocol.

Bradley Beal was unable to compete in the Tokyo Olympics. Photograph courtesy Washington Wizards.
Bradley Beal was unable to compete in the Tokyo Olympics. Photograph courtesy Washington Wizards.

The coronavirus challenges occurring across athletic leagues are a reminder that we are still not in a post-pandemic world. As former Nationals player Sean Doolittle put it last summer: “Sports are like the reward of a functioning society.” Have our home teams earned that reward yet?

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Daniella Byck
Assistant Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in August 2018. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she studied journalism and digital culture.