Many moments in professional sports bear witness to the “F**k you. It’s about me, dipstick.” Last week ten members of the Kansas City Royals could not make the trip to Canada. Why? Well, they have not completed Canadian vaccination requirements. This week, three members of the St. Louis Cardinals bowed out of the team’s upcoming Toronto games for the same reason. Most either claimed “Personal choice” or something to the effect of “I made a decision that’s best for my family.”

Congratulations assholes! You are the epitome that shows formal education gets drained somewhere in-between long hours of training and boring cross-country flights. As noted in countless reports, COVID-19 vaccine risk is negligible and keeping yourself vaccinated (plus booster) is the best way to protect yourself and your family from COVID. But none of that matters, as life is about personal choice.

Having lived in St. Louis for the better ten years, I say many St. Louis Cardinal fans side with the players. Having not read any part of the St. Louis-Post Dispatch (a newspaper best suited for wrapping fish), I imagine vaccine naysayers swarmed the comment boards. “Damn the torpedoes, boys. Those m****f**kers ain’t putt’s any of that s**t into me.” However, should the Cardinals miss the playoffs, will same said fans remain understanding?

The Kansas City Royals Whit Merrifield stated, “… if what’s standing between me and the playoffs was this vaccine, I would consider getting it.” But, unfortunately, this is where super conviction suddenly becomes ‘inconvenient.’ However, given that the Kansas City Royals trail in the standings by 13.5 games from first place, Merrifield has little to worry about. Still, I regurgitate at the words, “Nothing personal, folks. Really.”

It is personal. I work in the healthcare industry. Like many other dedicated clinicians, I showed up to work every day and fought COVID on the frontlines, watching countless patients perish daily. Almost all of them were unvaccinated. And when they found that either personal choice or Joe Rogan’s ivermectin advice was killing them, they came to our hospital begging for help, begging for the vaccination. So there’s another reason selfish NBA, NFL, or MLB players do not understand my bitterness: I am a COVID victim.

After two-plus years of battling COVID, I was infected. More than 3,600+ U.S. healthcare workers died from COVID exposure during the first year of the pandemic. The World Health Organization estimates that the pandemic has killed 115,000+ healthcare workers globally. Nurses accounted for 32% of all deaths. Support staff (like me) accounted for 20% of deaths. And doctors fallen by COVID comprise 17%. Overwhelmed by trauma, some healthcare workers committed suicide. So, the “it’s a personal choice” sentiment is a bullshit answer. When these great players (I say sarcastically) tear a ligament, where will they seek attention? Well, it’s not going to be from Joe Rogan. They usually see the best medical care professionals. Then, they end up at a hospital for the surgery, begging for a clinician to make them whole.

If my statistics are correct, over 3,400+ COVID deaths have occurred in St. Louis County. Cook County, Illinois, experienced over 15,000+ COVID deaths. Those two counties cover a lot of baseball fans, Cubs, White Sox, and Cardinals alike. Most of those I sat with during their last moments had wished for vaccination, but it was too late. Their personal choice killed (and usually another family member/friend as well). The only private option left was for someone to mercifully pull life support.

Cardinal players Arenado and Goldschmidt will lose $626,000+ in salary for those missed games. When I think about that, I am unsure which offends me more: refusal of a lifesaving vaccine or the fact that these players make more in a couple of days of baseball than most will ever make. But I am not here to debate salaries. However, when such players eventually get sick, go see Dr. Rodgers (Green Bay, WI) or Joe Rogan. In a spiteful way, acquire Long-COVID while you’re at it. Take your personal choice and shove it.

So, yeah, those are mean things to say. But my father, ex-wife, and ex-mother-in-law all died from COVID. Unfortunately, they never got a personal choice – each died around January 2021. If thay had the choice, they would have taken the shot. However, some professional sports players exhibit no such strength.