• Nathan Max

Steep Price Warranted for Vax Holdouts

Photo Credit: James Snook/USA Today. Washington State University fired football coach Nick Rolovich on Monday.

It’s been a bad week for the sports world’s most notorious anti-vaxxers.

In the span of just a few days, Brooklyn Nets’ guard Kyrie Irving has been sidelined and Washington State University football coach Nick Rolovich has been fired for their refusal to take any of the approved COVID-19 vaccines. Meanwhile, the NHL has suspended San Jose Sharks’ forward Evander Kane 21 games for submitting a fake vaccination card to the league.

All three are getting exactly what they deserve.

Photo Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images. Brooklyn Nets' guard Kyrie Irving stands to lose $20 million this season if he doesn't get vaccinated.

Irving, who once made waves for expressing his belief that the Earth is flat, is not in compliance with New York City’s mandate that anyone going to a public gym be fully vaccinated. His obstinance will reportedly cost him close to $20 million if he sits out the entire season.

That’s a steep price.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Washington State University rightfully rejected Rolovich’s ridiculous attempt to get around its vaccine mandate by applying for a clearly bogus religious exemption. Rolovich and four of his assistants were all canned Monday, the state’s deadline for public employees to get the vaccine. Rolovich was the highest paid public employee in the state, earning more than $3 million a year.

That’s a steep price.

Several hundred miles to the south, Kane tried a different approach, one that has been popular on many college campuses. Now, he will have to sit for a quarter of the season, without pay. Kane’s base salary is $7 million, which means he will lose about $1.75 million.

That’s a steep price.

All three of these men are losing a lot, and all three cases are shining examples of how anti-vaxxers throughout our society should be treated. Nobody is forcing Irving, Rolovich or Kane to get vaccinated. But, their refusal to do so should have severe consequences, as it has for health care workers, cops, firefighters and countless others in the non-sports segment of society.

Photo Credit: Getty Images. San Jose Sharks' forward Evander Kane has been suspended 21 games without pay for submitting a fake vaccine card.

The COVID-19 death toll in this country is approaching 750,000 people in less than two years. On Monday, the same day in which Rolovich was fired and Kane was suspended, former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell, 84, died of COVID-19 complications despite being vaccinated. If millions of “vaccine-hesitant” Americans would have gotten their shots over the summer, like they should have, immunocompromised cancer patients like Powell might not have been infected and could still be alive.

It’s time to get tough with these people, and the Brooklyn Nets, Washington State University and NHL should all be commended for taking a hard line. Multi-million dollar athletes and coaches deserve no special treatment when it comes to matters of public health.

Whereas Irving’s case appears to be one of pure stubbornness and ignorance, Rolovich and Kane’s attempts around the vaccine have been particularly egregious.

Rolovich’s bid for a religious exemption was exceptionally farcical. The following is a list of Christian denominations that have no doctrinal objection to vaccinations, according to Vanderbilt University’s Medical Center: Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Amish, Anglicans, Baptists, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Congregationalists, Episcopalians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Lutherans, Mennonites, Methodists, Quakers, Pentecostal Christians, Presbyterians, Seventh-Day Adventists and Unitarian-Universalists.

Other religions that support vaccines include: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism and even Scientology.

In fact, it seems that one of the few things that unites the disparate religions of the world is their near-universal support for vaccines. And why wouldn’t they? After all, they want their followers to live healthy lives, don’t they?

Kane isn’t losing his job, but the NHL has hit him with a suspension it usually reserves for some its most violent rule-breakers. There is good reason for that. Kane’s selfish attempt to skirt the rules -- there is no vaccine mandate in the NHL but unvaccinated players have more restrictions -- put the health of his teammates, coaches and everyone else around him at risk.

Approximately 189 million Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which comprises 57.4 percent of the population. There are plenty of doses available for the rest of the population.

And few legitimate excuses not to take them.