"The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat." That was the catchphrase of "ABC's Wide World of Sports."
If only it were so simple.
On Saturday in the golf world, PGA Tour player Jon Rahm was riding high. He led a popular tour event by six strokes. A win on Sunday would've earned $1.67 million and the world No. 1 ranking. But as he left the 18th green, he was stopped by the tour's medical director. Rahm soon doubled over. "Oh my god, not again," he said. That remains cryptic, but it soon became known that he'd tested positive for COVID-19 and would have to withdraw.
"The human drama of athletic competition" was another phrase in that old "Wide World of Sports" intro. Humans do indeed inject their own brand of drama, sometimes where it need not be.
The PGA Tour couldn't say whether Rahm has been vaccinated against COVID, and he hasn't indicated publicly. One would think he'd share that. That he faced testing protocols after a possible exposure suggests he hasn't been.
Some people have been enticed toward vaccination with the promise of beer or fishing licenses. Rahm apparently couldn't be bothered for a few million dollars, by the tour's voluntary vaccinations twice a week or even by the pertinent fact that he has an infant son.
And if he has been vaccinated yet is newly infected, that would be of keen interest, too.
His playing partners didn't seem concerned. Said Patrick Cantlay, who went on to win the tournament: "I've already had COVID, so, yeah, I got to imagine I have antibodies." (So, no. As we wrote in a May 15 editorial, a previous infection might not prevent another.) Said Scottie Scheffler, who finished third: "I'm not going to say whether or not I got vaccinated."
The fully vaccinated population among players "is north of 50 percent," said Andy Levinson, the PGA Tour's senior vice president of tournament administration. Asked if the tour was happy with that, he said, "We are."
Well, we're not. Athletes who perform on TV are role models. During a public health crisis, when prevention is needed, they should set the pace.