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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Sunday July 5, 2020

 
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The Draft Kings All-American Team Cup soldiered on after a positive Covid-19 result, to mixed reviews.

Photo Source: Truist Atlanta Open

Team Stars took out Team Stripes to win the Draft Kings All-American Team Cup in Atlanta this weekend.


The three-day event which started off on the wrong food when Frances Tiafoe was forced to pull out due to a positive Covid-19 test result on Saturday, ended with the Team Stars—featuring Taylor Fritz, Reilly Opelka (Kevin King on Sunday), Tommy Paul and Chris Eubanks—defeating Team Stripes on the strength of a seven-point tiebreaker that broke a 9-9 tie between the two teams.

Tennis Express

Team Stripes—John Isner, Sam Querrey, Steve Johnson and Tennys Sandgren—won seven of the 12 matches but the matches played on Sunday counted three points each.

The event was the first event to be held with fans in attendance in the United States and the timing was difficult as coronavirus cases are currently spiking in the United States and in the state of Georgia. Cases in the state are rapidly approaching 100,000 (approximately 3,000 new cases per day) and many criticized the event for including fans while the country is in such difficult shape with regard to the pandemic.

America’s response has been catastrophic. The country is close to 3,000,000 confirmed covid-19 cases and the United States has recorded at least 40,000 new confirmed cases for each of the last six days.


The question isn’t whether or not the event followed strict social distancing protocols (reportedly it did), or whether it was on TV, but rather: should any live sports with spectators be happening at all in America at the moment?

Opinions are mixed.

Just two weeks ago, Novak Djokovic came under heavy scrutiny for his role in the Adria Tour when he and several others tested positive for Covid-19. Serbia and Croatia have been relatively spared by the virus, and because of this fact there was far less emphasis on social distancing protocols at the events in the Balkans. Djokovic made matters worse by heading to the nightclubs for some partying with the players in Belgrade.

Perhaps it is because of Djokovic’s status as the World No.1, but the disparity in levels of outrage between the two events has been startling.

Also shocking is the fact that tournaments are continuing to play with spectators after learning of the fate of the Adria Tour. Clearly tolerance for the hazards of living freely in a pandemic is rising, and as societies realize they can’t beat the virus they are simply trying to do their best to live with it and minimize the spread.

Unlike Belgrade, where a shirtless Djokovic and mates danced with reckless abandon, there was no partying in Atlanta, but it was surprising to see that the event continued when Tiafoe tested positive. It’s a clear sign of the potential difficulties that America is facing right now. The virus is prevalent and becoming more so, but the population is polarized on how to proceed.

With the economy reeling for four months it is also important to create opportunities for income.

But how to balance the need to move the economy forward while not stepping backward in coronavirus mitigation? Surely if things continue to worsen in America, the economy will suffer commensurately in time.

So many uncertainties, and on this Fourth of July weekend, the event, toting a #TennisGoesFourth hashtag, only added questions.

Is this really the right way to go? How many players that came in contact with Tiafoe are going to test positive? Should we be outraged about it? Or simply happy that tennis took a step back? Can we be both at the same time?

It should be noted that the event benefitted the Folded Flag Foundation organization, which provides educational scholarships and support grants to the spouses and children of the U.S. military and government personnel who died as a result of hostile action or in an accident related to U.S. combat operations.


“I’m excited because this is a perfect chance to see the best American players in one weekend. It was an easy decision to partner with DraftKings and LifeTime, two important names in sports,” said Eddie Gonzalez, Tournament and Event Director for the DraftKings All-American Pro Team Cup. “The health and safety of everyone associated with this and any event today is paramount as we navigate any reopening amid the ongoing health crisis and coronavirus pandemic.”

It’s hard to falt the players for trying, or wanting to help put the sport back on the map and return the country to some form of normalcy. But it’s easy to pick apart the wisdom of doing anything that requires travel and social interaction in a week that has seen American get absolutely hammered by the virus.

This weekend was a very shaky start for tennis with spectators in America, and it was not pretty. It’s a clear sign that the future of the sport—at least for the short and perhaps medium term—will be fraught with peril.


 

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