Austria     Belgium     Brazil     Canada     Denmark     Finland     France     Germany     Hungary     Iceland     Ireland     Italy     Luxembourg     The Netherlands     Norway     Poland     Spain     Sweden     Switzerland     UK     USA     

The Omicron Wave, School Closures, Worker Shortages, and a Generation without Sports

The WHO has predicted that more than half of the people in Europe could be infected with the Omicron variant in the coming 6 to 8 weeks. As a business development magazine, our focus at DECISION is how this wave will impact business operations on the continent in the coming months. People already experienced how staff shortages can cause headaches, with thousands of flights cancelled worldwide over the holidays due to lack of healthy staff. Although much of the world is rightfully focusing on hospital capacity, another indicator that we should all pay attention to is whether schools stay open. If children cannot go to school, their parents cannot go to work. That is why many countries, including France, have taken a “last to close, first to open approach” towards their educational institutions.

In addition to schools, the next pressing pandemic issue has become quarantine periods. We remember how at the beginning of the pandemic, the international consensus was that people should quarantine for 14 days and only emerge once they have tested negative twice via PCR tests. This quarantine/isolation period has been shortening steadily, and now, there is an emerging battle between workers, governments, and employers about how long this period should be. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has slashed the recommended isolation period to five days. In response, Delta Airlines changed their policies to only allow for five days of COVID-specific sick leave for those who are fully vaccinated, with two additional paid days if someone is tested on day 5 and they are still testing positive. This has angered union activists, who consider this 5-day period too short.

Businesses want to keep their businesses afloat. People want to stay safe. As we have seen time and time again, the pandemic has put people between a rock and a hard place. No matter what, the only safe prediction about early 2022 is that it will be chock full of headaches.

Lonely Children, Active Screens

According to SSRS/Luker on Trends, a company that conducts periodic surveys about sports and society, for the first time in history, children ages 12 to 17 place a higher priority on being alone or spending time online rather than hanging out with friends or family. If kids are spending so much time alone/online, they are definitely not spending time on the soccer pitch or the basketball court. From a business perspective, this is extremely worrisome for sports clubs around the world. Children often become fans of a team because they played the sport at one point or another; it does not matter if they played it well. It helps them understand the nuances of the sport, and at a minimum it helps them relate to the players. So, if a child plays baseball, they are most likely to become a baseball fan. It follows that if a child is interested in video games, they will become fans of esports teams and streamers, not traditional sports teams. But if these kids are not playing the sports, then the main gateway to fandom remains closed. And if they are not spending time with their families, they are not going to be inheriting the familial love for certain teams and rivalries.

Perhaps the most worrisome part of this whole trend is not how the bottom lines of major sports clubs will suffer. What is scary is that so many of our children are becoming far less active and far more isolated. People sometimes overvalue what sports can teach, as if they are the only ways for someone to learn disciple, work ethic, and resilience. We know that is not true. But even the biggest proponents of esports must admit that having entire generations of children sit alone, unmoving in front of screens will have adverse health and social consequences. When these children come of age and have to join the workforce, they will struggle much more than their peers.