The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is still raging through the United States and been a factor for several NBA teams that have dealt with outbreaks at various points this season and dealt with postponed games.
The pandemic also is the basis of the Los Angeles Lakers and most other teams still playing games without fans in attendance, which of course isn’t an ideal scenario for anyone involved.
However, things appear to be turning around nationally as the release of vaccinations has caused case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths to decrease dramatically in recent weeks. While this is all great news, there remains some hesitancy around the nation about vaccines in general.
The NBA was hoping to ease this issue by teaming up with some top players to do public service announcements promoting the efficacy and safety of the COVID vaccine. This idea was met with an underwhelming response for a host of reasons, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
The NBA’s outreach to the agents of many of the league’s elite players — with hopes of getting stars to participate in PSAs to promote the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine — has been met with a tepid response, sources said. Player apprehensions about receiving the vaccine are consistent with those that also exist in Black communities throughout the country, agents and players told ESPN.
Sources describe a number of factors contributing to many players’ reluctance to participate, including uncertainty about taking the vaccine themselves, reluctance to advocate its use for others and resistance to extending favors to a league amid the largely unpopular plans for an All-Star Game.
According to a Pew Research Center survey, only 42% of Black Americans have shown an immediate willingness to receive the COVID vaccine. As the NBA is a predominantly African-American league, this lack of enthusiasm surrounding the vaccine is unsurprising.
Another interesting factor is the fact that players don’t necessarily feel like helping the NBA after their decision to hold an All-Star Game despite most star players not wanting one.
The NBA has good intentions surrounding their vaccination plan. However, a perfect storm of issues affecting players themselves and the communities they are a part of led to the tepid response.
Atlanta Mayor voices concern over All-Star Game
The 2021 All-Star Game — the inclusion of which is one of the reasons why players have no interest in doing vaccine PSA’s — has had its fair share of controversy on its own. The game is taking place in Atlanta, which is coincidentally one of the few cities with limited fans currently in attendance.
Because of this, mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms urged fans to not fly to Atlanta for All-Star related festivities, saying that the NBA has promised that it would be a made-for-TV only event.
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