Mark Keohane took exception to tennis star Alexander Zverev’s disregard for the dangers of Covid-19. Picture: Michel Euler/AP
Mark Keohane took exception to tennis star Alexander Zverev’s disregard for the dangers of Covid-19. Picture: Michel Euler/AP

OPINION: Onus on each of us to play it safe

By Mark Keohane Time of article published Jul 3, 2020

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FROM the outset of lockdown, I’ve been responsible, reasonable and have shown the threat of Covid-19 every respect. So has my partner. Yet, somehow, I got it and two days later, so did she.

It meant us self-isolating for 18 days, taking every precaution and prescribed medication.

Our symptoms varied but both of us experienced a tranquiliser-type fatigue, cold- and flu-like symptoms and I got a secondary chest infection, which could be treated with antibiotics.

We have both recovered and are more educated from the experience.

We are not paranoid or fearful, but we continue to be rational and not stupid.

Which is why this week, I took exception to tennis star Alexander Zverev’s disregard for the dangers of the virus and selfishness towards others.

Sports stars, like other celebrities and prominent individuals, have massive reach and influence through their social media platforms. More so, they have influence through their actions and their words.

Zverev was part of a coronavirus cluster who competed in the Adria Tour a week ago. Within a few days of the tour several players and officials tested positive.

Zverev tweeted: “I deeply apologise to anyone that I have put at risk. I will proceed to follow self-isolation guidelines. Stay safe.”

Yet, four days later, Zverev was out socialising at a packed restaurant and living life with the freedom of a world we all knew pre-Covid-19.

Australia tennis rival Nick Kyrgios’s disgust summed up how I felt. “I see more and more controversial things in the world but the one that stuck out for me was seeing Sascha Zverev again, again, again. How selfish can you be? I mean, if you have the audacity to put out a tweet that you were going to self-isolate for 14 days and apologising to the general public for putting their health at risk, then have the audacity to stay inside 14 days.”

Former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker attacked Kyrgios for being a “rat” for exposing Zverev.

This led to Kyrgios telling Becker that he may have been able to volley but that he was a “tool” and there clearly wasn’t much going on upstairs if he couldn’t understand the issue at play.

Our world needs more Kyrgios telling it like it is and adding substance to the awareness of the dangers of the virus and it needs fewer players, like John Isner, posting without thinking. Their words carry weight.

Isner, the No 1 American male player, tweeted: “You coronabros can stay in your basement all you want. I choose to live my life and play/promote the sport I love in a safe manner.”

Isner was vilified for the mocking term “coronabros”. He backtracked quickly: “We are going to have to learn and adapt to this virus in the safest manner possible. It is not a laughing matter.”

Every day, there is some or other self-appointed expert detailing that the virus will kill everyone or that the virus is a hoax. The reality is different. The virus is real and the merits of its potential to harm have to be respected.

The essence of understanding the threat is to understand one’s responsibility to oneself and your partner, children, neighbour, work colleague and so on. Act responsibly and take pride in being part of the collective to beat the virus.

Education and the application of this education is the selfless act that speaks to the collective. Zverev screamed “selfishness” with his disregard for anyone else’s safety.

Sports people, like their revered artistic, business and political influencers, have a responsibility to be the leaders in calming the paranoia and fear. Those who choose to ignore this, through their arrogance and destructive behaviour, must be named and shamed.

* Mark Keohane is an award-winning sports journalist and a regular contributor to IOL Sport.


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