Charlie Baker tone deaf to the plight of sports teams and fans

Gov. Charlie Baker has been remarkably tone deaf to the concerns of sports fans and teams — and his belated plan to allow practice facilities to open next week doesn’t change that.

Except for his whining about missing playing basketball, Baker has failed to grasp the symbolic importance that sports represents in America — especially as a morale booster. Before his announcement on Friday, Baker had refused to include sports teams in his phased coronavirus reopening plan — leaving them to guess when they might be able to start up again.

He cavalierly dismissed questions from the media about professional sports, making this ludicrous suggestion: “Professional stuff is running through a different channel,” he said.

No, actually it isn’t.

All coronavirus-related business regulations go through the governor’s office, and it was infuriating that Baker didn’t seem to realize that when it came to sports. Or maybe he did and just didn’t want to talk about it.

Baker’s hemming and hawing, meanwhile, has set our local pro sports teams back weeks as they’ve been held hostage to unnecessarily stringent mandates.

Celtics boss Danny Ainge had even expressed frustration about being unable to get practices going again — a rare dissent from the usual pro-Baker spin that you get in the media.

The reality is that Baker has been exceptionally slow and cautious about allowing pro sports or any business to resume — in stark contrast to governors in other states.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced five days ago that sports teams could start practicing immediately.

“I believe that sports that can come back without having people in the stadium, without having people in the arena, do it! Do it!” Cuomo enthusiastically proclaimed.

“We want you up,” he said. “We want people to be able to watch sports. To the extent people are still staying home, it gives people something to do. It’s a return to normalcy.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a liberal Democrat who like Cuomo has been cautious about restarting the economy, has already announced  he thinks sports could start again in early June. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, has gone so far as to say some fans could be start to let into sports games again — obviously something that’s never going to happen in Massachusetts anytime soon.

And what do we get here in the Bay State? Charlie “At Some Point” Baker. Charlie “Abundance of Caution” Baker.

“Not only will it be a significant milestone for those of us who are fans, it will also send a big signal that we’ve continued to do all the things we need to do to contain and control the virus and keep it in check,” Baker said.

Wow, how inspiring.

And maybe, just maybe, Baker might someday even give the go-ahead for the scourge of coronavirus — golf driving ranges — to reopen, weeks after courses have opened.

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