Gotham FC was slated to play their first home game of the regular season Saturday against the North Caroline Courage. A late night injury list that included 11 players on covid protocols across both teams certainly was not what any of us expected. The game was still scheduled to be played despite multiple starters from both teams being out. Only for the league to cancel the game just 2 hours before kickoff.
This game was going to be special. Gotham FC put so much into this match. There was the ticket discounts through Athlete Ally. The "Rep Your State" promotion. The organization, coaches and players were going all out to give as much as they could to the fans and we are gutted for them. To put on an event like this takes so many people going above and beyond. Working tirelessly and putting their heart into it. For the league to cancel the game so close to the kickoff time is rough on everyone. From the vendors and workers who were set up and and ready to go. To the field crew, the announcers, security, etc.
To the supporter group cloud 9 who had already been hours into their tailgate at the stadium. Who worked tirelessly as well on another one of their award winning Tifos.
To the fans who spent hours traveling to the arena only to find out the match was cancelled.
We all deserve better.
In this series we have proven that you can learn things from wins and from losses. But this time, we prove we can learn things from even games you don't play. Here are three things we learned.
The pandemic is still alive and well and should continue to be taken seriously.
2 years, and a million deaths later the Corona Virus pandemic is not done with us.
"COVID now has variants and subvariants, making it hard to keep track of all of them. William Hanage, Harvard associate professor of epidemiology, noted that he expects cases to tick up in the coming months as the virus continues to evolve and immunity wanes from vaccines and prior infections." - May 6th 2022
Athletes are less likely to be hospitalized but the long term effects can be devastating to an athletes performance.
"The severity of COVID-19 in elite athletes is predominantly mild and without complications. Athletes can return to sport after two symptom-free weeks and additional heart screening is usually not required. Determination of antibodies has been shown to be a useful indicator of a previous COVID-19 disease, and some symptoms can be used as predictors of antibody response." - Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport,2022.
Although athletes fair well there are cases of long Covid that can hinder their long term performance.
"Long COVID has had varying hindering effects. Athletes report fatigue, tiring far more easily during training sessions. They are exhausted even when training at their lower threshold levels, which were viewed as their easier sessions based on their pre-COVID infection fitness levels."
We wish every athlete, staff or anyone exposed to recover quickly and healthily. Our thoughts and energy are with them. We still need to continue to take this seriously and do the common sense precautions as much as necessary to save lives.
The NWSL in 2022 is still reactive instead of proactive
The league instituted a new policy allowing teams to sign emergency players when a cluster of Covid cases are recorded. "Current protocol allows a team to compete with as few as 14 players who are both eligible and capable of playing in a match. Under the new rule, teams may sign Covid replacement players to bolster rosters to the non-Covid minimum of 18 players." -nwsl.com
This policy should have been in place a long time ago. Not the day before a match after learning about the covid outbreak. This pandemic has been going on for 2 years. If this policy was put in place earlier the two teams could have called up players to meet the roster requirements. Gotham FC has a talented reserve team they could have leaned on. Once again the league waits for something to happen and then throws a rule together.
The postponement of this game falls squarely on the league. Not Gotham FC or North Carolina Courage.
Health and Safety come first.
As disappointed as we are, safety comes first and the show must go on. Cancellation of the match ultimately was the right thing to do given the circumstances. Again, our thoughts are with those effected and wish everyone a speedy recovery.
We must as fans and Gotham FC as an organization, needs to bottle up that energy and release it on Sunday against Racing Louisville. We need to show up on Sunday, raise our scarves, boo the opponent, and cheer on our Gotham FC warriors for 90 minutes. They deserve it. Red Bull Arena is an amazing venue for soccer. Let's get it rocking! See you there.