Helmut Marko, an advisor with the Red Bull Formula One racing team, had the most bizarre idea of all – holding a training camp that would expose drivers to the coronavirus so they could build immunity. Nelson Antoine/Associated Press

The NBA playoffs on cruise ships?

Tiger vs. Lefty, The Sequel?

Formula One drivers intentionally exposed to the coronavirus?

In these challenging times when sports around the world are largely shut down because of the pandemic, some bizarre ideas have been floated to get things going again.

These aren’t even worthy of April Fools’ Day gags.

Sure, we could all use the diversion that sports provides. I mean, as wonderful as it is to hear the late Keith Jackson again, how many times can we watch replays of college football games from the 1980s?

But the idea that athletes should potentially risk their own health to give us more TV options is reckless at best and Tiger King-level wacko at worst.

Until the virus has been largely contained, and relying on medical experts to tell us when that is, we all need to stay at home to reduce the risk of infection.

That certainly means saying no to some of these ideas:

ESPN basketball analyst Jay Williams suggested that the NBA playoffs should be staged at sea, with teams from from each conference boarding two large cruise ships to hold games in tightly controlled conditions. “There’s testing before everybody goes on the ship,” Williams said. “You allow the player and their immediate family … to go with them.”

Williams wasn’t done, but he lost us at cruise ships.

We’re not even sure where to start with this idea, especially since these mammoth vessels have become synonymous with spreading the virus rather than providing a safe haven. There’s also the little matter of trying to hoop it up on a ship that’s potentially swaying back and forth in stormy waters. And, oh yeah, there would likely be some lengthy injury reports listing “seasickness” as the ailment.

Hey, here’s an alternative: the NBA postseason on Gilligan’s Island. Hopefully, they still have the court that was used when the Harlem Globetrotters paid a visit.

• Talk of a rematch between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson began innocently enough when a fan asked on Twitter if they might be willing to hit the course, accompanied only by a bare-bones camera crew (and presumably their caddies), for an 18-hole round that everyone else could watch at home.


Phil Mickelson has suggested on social media that another made-for-TV showdown with Tiger Woods is a real possibility. Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

“We need live sports,” Chris Yurko pleaded. Then came the tantalizing response from Mickelson, “Working on it.” Followed by another that said, “I don’t tease. I’m kinda a sure thing.”

Before long, Vegas bookies were setting lines on a possible match. Golf.com reported that NFL quarterback Tom Brady and retired rival Peyton Manning might pair up with Woods and Mickelson in a team format. In a sign of how desperate everyone is for live sports, no one seemed to care that Woods-Mickelson I, which was held in Las Vegas in November 2018, was a technically-impaired dud.

OK, we’ll grant that this proposal makes a lot more sense than playoff basketball on cruise ships. The risk of infection on a wide-open golf course with only a few people around would be minimized. Not to mention, the match could double as a fundraiser for pandemic relief.

Still, it would send the wrong signal for two of the world’s most prominent athletes to break a quarantine that so many people are observing. And, yes, there’s a chance someone could fall ill no matter how many safeguards are taken.

So, Phil, maybe get back to us when it’s safe to play a real golf tournament.

• Finally, let’s consider perhaps the most ludicrous idea of all.

Helmut Marko, an advisor with the Red Bull Formula One team, proposed holding a training camp that would expose drivers to the coronavirus so they could build immunity to the disease while the season is on hold. That way, he said, the drivers could recover in time for races later in the year.

“It would be ideal, because these are all young, strong men in really good health, if the infection comes then. Then they would be equipped, if it starts up again, for a really hard world championship,” Marko told Austrian public broadcaster ORF.

We don’t even know where to begin with this off-the-wall plan, which has already been shot down by the higher-ups at Red Bull. In what was surely a dazzling display of understatement, Marko conceded that the proposal to actually infect drivers with a potentially lethal virus “was not accepted positively.”


Some have brought up the morale-boosting role that sports – most notably, Major League Baseball – played during World War II by carrying on with hugely depleted rosters.

President Franklin Roosevelt famously gave the green light for baseball to continue in a letter to Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis that said “everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before. And that means that they ought to have a chance for recreation and for taking their minds off their work even more than before.”

But as challenging as those times were – much more so than today, to be sure – it doesn’t translate at all to a pandemic. We’re told that strict social distancing is the best way to defeat this enemy. That applies to everyone, including our most famous athletes.

We shouldn’t ask them to put their lives on the line just to keep us entertained.

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