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SB Nation NBA Reacts: Wizards fans split on whether Bradley Beal’s coronavirus vaccine status affects their opinion of him, in favor of “vaccine passports” and local mandate

We go over the most contentious topic, but a very important one around the Wizards’ season in the final part of our survey from this week.

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Washington Wizards v Toronto Raptors
Bradley Beal’s coronavirus vaccination status doesn’t appear to be a divisive topic among Wizards fans for now. But it could change if Washington, D.C. and/or other local governments tighten regulations on unvaccinated people like him.
Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images

Thank you so much for your responses to our first SB Nation NBA Reacts survey for the 2021-22 season. If you haven’t signed up, do so by clicking here.

Also, if you haven’t checked out our previous two parts, do so by clicking on the links below:

Wizards fans are split on whether Bradley Beal’s coronavirus vaccination status affects their opinion of him remaining on the team

SB Nation

In this post, we’re going to go over what may be the most contentious topic among the Wizards fanbase, and how to approach the season: the coronavirus vaccine.

More specifically, we will focus on the fact that Beal is unvaccinated, and that status hasn’t changed since media day. Later on, we’ll focus on fan attendance requirements in light of the vaccine.

Regarding Beal’s status, it reveals an inconvenient thing that few, if any besides me is willing to say regularly, assuming Beal remains unvaccinated for the foreseeable future: A successful season depends on the lack of a D.C. coronavirus vaccine mandate on indoor events and that no other local regulations tighten in the coming months. Otherwise, he’d be in a spot like Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving individually and the Wizards would be ... “starless,” assuming we go with the “one star narrative” many push.

The respondents (we had over 300 people) were split on whether this affected their opinion on Beal remaining with the Wizards longer term. Forty-five percent said his status won’t affect their opinion on whether he should stay or go. But 37 percent also said that his status has changed their opinion. Eighteen percent weren’t sure. While a follow-up question wasn’t asked to those who weren’t sure, it wouldn’t surprise me that many of them would change their opinion if a tighter regulation were passed in Washington, whether now or in the near future.

A slight majority of Wizards will change their opinion of the TEAM if Beal is forced to miss games due to possible government vaccine mandates

We asked a question of whether your opinion of the Wizards would change if there was a D.C. or other government vaccine mandate that would prevent Beal from playing games. While a plurality (38 percent) said their opinions of the team wouldn’t change, a combined 54 percent said such an event would, with 34 percent saying it would affect their opinion greatly, and 20 percent saying it would affect their opinion somewhat.

While we didn’t ask more follow up questions on what kind of an opinion one has on the Wizards, given that most fans are confident in the team right now, it may very well change should a local mandate get passed by the D.C. Council and/or Mayor, among other things.

An overwhelming majority of Wizards fans are in favor of “vaccine passports”

In many countries, including other liberal democracies like those in the European Union, the national (ex. unitary states like the Netherlands and France) or federal (ex. Belgium and Germany) governments have state-run mobile apps to check one’s coronavirus vaccine status, tests and certificates of COVID-19 recovery, also known as “vaccine passports.”

These apps are for travel and attendance at large events like concerts or soccer games. They are also increasingly required for one to dine indoors or use an indoor gym, depending on what rules the national or federal government sets up.

In the United States, there is no state-run mobile app at the federal level. Some states have set programs of their own, however, and there are also some private options like the CLEAR Health Pass which do a similar thing. Some concerts at Capital One Arena require attendees to be vaccinated OR a negative coronavirus test. Attendees can then show proof via an app like CLEAR if possible. Wizards games do not require such proof unless someone is sitting 15 feet or less from the court.

Though “vaccine passports” are a divisive issue in American national politics, they aren’t with the Wizards fanbase. Seventy percent were in favor of such apps (which would include a record of negative tests) at ALL Capital One Arena events, including Wizards games.

SB Nation

An overwhelming majority of Wizards fans support a D.C. vaccine mandate for indoor events, but there are divisions on whether that mandate should be full or not.

It’s one thing to be in support of a “vaccine passport” but not be vaccinated against the coronavirus. After all, this program would also hold negative tests or documented recoveries.

But is there a lot of support for an indoor event D.C. vaccine mandate like the New York City-style (attendees, including locally based workers, must be PARTIALLY vaccinated) model or the stricter Toronto-style (attendees, including locally based workers, must be FULLY vaccinated) model?

According to our survey, a combined 75 percent are in favor of an indoor event D.C. vaccine mandate of some kind. Fifty-three percent or a small majority were in favor of a Toronto-style mandate where all attendees and workers would be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. The remaining mandate supporting group, or 22 percent of respondents were in favor of a partial vaccination mandate.

This finding is interesting because it is at odds with the Wizards’ status quo.

Assuming the D.C. Council and/or Mayor Muriel Bowser implement an indoor vaccine mandate whether it’s today or in the future, that would mean that Beal will be at risk of missing games and foregoing pay due to his status. It’s possible that Beal gets vaccinated at this point, a la Andrew Wiggins. But if Beal still didn’t, it is evident that Wizards fans wouldn’t appreciate that, since it would hold the team back from its potential. The same applies to Kyle Kuzma if he is not vaccinated.

And these findings go back to fan confidence: 72 percent of fans are confident in the Wizards’ direction, all things considered before opening day. But if there’s a new vaccine mandate in town, that figure is prone to drop significantly.

Okay Albert, what do Wizards fans think about the performance of the team and these vaccines now that you’ve seen the data.?

If the survey results from over 300 people were the view of one Wizards fan, here is how that one fan (let’s call her “Wanda the Wizards fan”) would likely think. This fan may or may not think the way I do personally. In future posts, we’ll check in with Wanda since she’ll be our barometer for this season:

  1. Wizards fans are optimistic about the start of the Wes Unseld, Jr. Era: Despite the 0-4 preseason start, Wanda the Wizards fan is happy there is a new coach to replace Scott Brooks. Furthermore Wanda’s pleased that Tommy Sheppard wasn’t hesitant to make big trades to increase the team’s depth to this point. Again, this survey was closed (albeit minutes) before the start of the regular season. But all of that said, Wanda knows that if there’s a team that won’t meet positive expectations, it’s probably the Wizards.
  2. Wizards fans want more safety measures around the coronavirus at Capital One Arena: A number of fans responded to our tweets yesterday when we shared the stat that 70 percent of fans wanted a vaccine passport to be used for Wizards games, and so does Wanda. One even shared that the Dallas Mavericks have voluntarily decided to implement a vaccine mandate for admission to their home games, though I couldn’t find any proof of that, so that’s hearsay for me. Regardless, the Mavericks have already required proof of vaccination OR a negative test (defined as 48 hours old or less) before arrival, which isn’t as strong as a flat-out mandate for fans, but it’s stronger than the Wizards’, unless one sits 15 feet or less from the court, due to NBA rules. Given that D.C. is a more progressive market than Dallas or the State of Texas, it’s mildly surprising that such a mandate HASN’T been implemented here. Wanda openly asks this question: If the Eagles or Harry Styles can request that someone is vaccinated, why can’t Ted Leonsis and the Wizards ask their fans as well, right? After all, isn’t the Wizards/Mystics’ practice facility sponsor named after MEDSTAR? Their board can’t be pleased at the moment.
  3. Wizards fans want a local vaccine mandate for indoor events in D.C., regardless of what Beal thinks: Wanda wants ALL Wizards fans to enter Capital One Arena two weeks after both jabs of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, OR two weeks after Janssen’s (that’s Johnson & Johnson’s) shot. She may be willing to see certain cases (maybe someone who needs to work) attend an indoor event despite being not yet being fully vaccinated. For example, let’s say Beal gets the vaccine today, but a rule lets him play despite not being two weeks past the arbitrary vaccination period.. Still, at this point, how much more research is needed on these jabs? Either one is following the research and getting the jab, though admittedly, a jab is NOT a cure. No reputable doctor has said the vaccine was an outright cure. Rather, it’s a way for society to move on beyond the pandemic. If that person doesn’t get the jab, he or she or they leave(s) it up to the Gods. Obviously, there’s an exception for children, since people under 11 years old won’t be able to get a jab through the general public in the short term.
  4. If Beal believes it’s better to remain unvaccinated on principle AFTER a D.C. (or another locality’s) vaccine mandate, it WILL be a BIG problem: Of everything Wanda, our average (okay AGGREGATE!) Wizards fan believes, this is the most important thing. Right now, Beal’s stance on the coronavirus runs against the opinion of most of the respondents to our survey. For now, that’s fine, because there is no material penalty (and maybe Kyrie is hoping to get traded for Spencer Dinwiddie though I digress). Still, if a D.C. or other overarching vaccine mandate is implemented, the expectation is that Beal will get his shot(s) then at the very latest. The last thing that Wanda (or really, any individual fan like you and me) want(s) is to see the FRANCHISE PLAYER out due to something most people have taken locally without a mandate. It is her hope (and mine and perhaps many of yours as well) that Brad abides by Nike’s motto: Just do it. Fans remain optimistic that he will take the vaccine before any of these mandates negatively affect his income or the Wizards’ standing in the NBA.

This is the final article I will write on Beal’s coronavirus vaccine status as an in-and-of-itself story. But of course, we will report on topics like Beal getting vaccinated or a D.C. mandate. And I think we’ll have Wanda the Wizards fan remain as our barometer for these results.

Again, I appreciate the feedback you all provided, especially on this potentially touchy subject.

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