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Are Nets right to ban Kyrie Irving over vaccination status?

Are Nets right to ban Kyrie Irving over vaccination status?
Tony Gutierrez / AP
WRITTEN BY
10/13/21
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Fact Box

  • The National Basketball Association (NBA) was established by merging the Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball League in 1949. 
  • Kyrie Irving is an American basketball player for the Brooklyn Nets of the NBA; he signed a $141 million deal for four years after playing two years for the Boston Celtics. 
  • Sean Marks, general manager for the Nets, announced on Tuesday, October 12, 2021, that Irving wouldn't be able to practice or play for the team until he met New York City’s vaccine mandate. However, Marks said, “We respect the fact that he has a choice and he can make his own right to choose.” 
  • On September 28, 2021, the NBA released health and safety protocols for the 2021-2022 season. While they have a 90% vaccination status, unvaccinated members will be required to be tested more often, eat in different rooms, and wear masks. 
  • As of October 12, 2021, 64.5% of the New York population has been fully vaccinated with 72.2% at one dose. There have been a total of 2.5 million coronavirus cases in New York with 56,337 reported deaths.

Curtice (No)

While New York City put the Brooklyn Nets in a difficult position, the team was still wrong to ban Kyrie Irving from all practices and games because he’s not vaccinated. He had recently been allowed to practice at the Nets practice facility, but due to New York's requirement that all residents be vaccinated in public indoor spaces like restaurants and gyms—including the Barclays Center, where the Nets play their home games—he was made ineligible to play any Nets home games. This is normalized anti-science. 

Either these vaccines work, or they don't. Those who chose to get one of the available COVID-19 vaccines did so, presumably, to protect themselves from contracting the virus. As more science comes out, there have been a significant number of recorded 'breakthrough' cases where vaccinated persons still contract and further transmit the disease. Although a vaccinated person may experience less intense symptoms while contracting COVID, the vaccine (acting more like a therapeutic in this case) may mask the infected person’s symptoms to the point of them not knowing they are sick, which is how the disease continues to spread.

There is no evidence to prove vaccinated persons are more at risk of catching COVID from an unvaccinated person, or that unvaccinated people are the chief vectors of spread. “Unvaccinated” doesn't mean infected, and “vaccinated” doesn't mean not infected. Additionally, unvaccinated people who have acquired natural immunity through previous infection are more immune than those who only have the vaccine. 

No person should be coerced into taking a medical injection or risk punishment or firing by their employer. Conversely, the Nets should not be forced into a situation where it feels it must suspend an unvaccinated player to comply with a city edict. 


Morgan (Yes) 

Being a player for the Brooklyn Nets is Irving's job, and with any other job, specific rules and requirements must be followed. New York has required all players to be vaccinated to play in games. Irving may choose not to be vaccinated; however, the same right to choose goes for the Nets, and Irving can be banned if he's not doing what's required of him to play.

Reportedly, Irving was “upset that people are losing their jobs due to vaccine mandates,” and said his decision to be unvaccinated isn't due to a lack of belief in the vaccine or science but in a stance against vaccine mandates. No one is being forced to take the vaccine—those working in certain industries are being required to adhere to new standards. The people who are refusing these new standards, just like Irving, are simply facing the consequences of their actions. With millions of eyes on Irving, there is no 'grander fight” than choosing to get vaccinated to set a good example for his fans so we can recover from this pandemic. 

The available vaccines have been proven to lessen the severity of COVID-19's symptoms along with its many variants, and this protection is worth getting. Practically speaking, remaining unvaccinated, Irving risks getting very badly sick from COVID and thus potentially spreading the virus or its variants to his teammates. This is simply not a risk the Nets want to take. The season could be stopped, and players needing to quarantine could cost them playable games and wins—not allowing unvaccinated players to play mitigates this risk and is ultimately a smart business decision.

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