Can Sports Help Heal a Country? Some Fans Don’t Buy the Emotional Pleas

Few things would make Pedro Urbaez happier than seeing the Mets play again. He was born and raised in Corona, the neighborhood adjacent to the Mets’ stadium. Some of his earliest memories are of sitting in the upper deck with his father or reading baseball encyclopedias he got from his dad. Now, 38, Urbaez is a member of a popular Mets fan club and watches about 20 games in person each season, nearly all of the rest on television. Yet with baseball and other major sports desperately seeking avenues for a return amid the coronavirus pandemic, Urbaez and other fans wonder if leagues are conflating their economic stakes with pleas full of emotion and nostalgia. Are big-time sports actually the healing force so many public officials and sports leaders purport them to be? And do their fleeting thrills provide necessary entertainment right now, justifying the risks posed by large gatherings?“I don’t think now is the time,” said Urbaez, who has seen firsthand the peril caused by the pandemic while working at a New York food rescue nonprofit.

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