Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:
The Advocate on playing sports during the pandemic:
After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, sports teams suspended activities as the nation coped with its shock and grief.
It was a frightening situation, but the teams and their athletes decided that the best way for the nation to show its strength was to compete and cheer.
Who can forget the 2001 World Series, played in Yankee Stadium? The 97th edition of the Fall Classic stretched to seven games.
Other sports brought their athletes back to the field as well, including the National Football League.
New Orleans played a historic role as host of the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, 2002.
The game was postponed by a week, and the city juggled its convention schedule to accommodate America’s big game, including moving a massive auto dealers’ convention and even changing the dates of some Carnival parades.
Security at the Superdome was so intense it took an hour to get into the game.
This year, once again, athletes and teams are demonstrating their leadership by showing America how to resume play and revive an important component of our economy, while working to manage the risks of the coronavirus pandemic.
Baseball resumed play July 23, and with fits and starts, the teams are on their way to completing a shortened 60-game season.
Basketball came back a week later, with teams living and playing together in Orlando.
This weekend, the NFL begins its 101st season. The Saints will be playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Superdome with no fans in the stands.
College football teams began playing Labor Day weekend, and the Southeastern Conference begins its season later this month. That season has special resonance here in Louisiana, where the LSU Tigers will be defending their historic national championship. High school teams begin play next month.
There will be sacrifices to make all of this work. The stadiums will be empty, or attendance will be limited, so the Saints will lose the advantage of cheering fans in one of the NFL’s loudest venues. Athletes will have to limit their social lives to avoid bringing the virus into the clubhouse or onto the field. Fans may be asked not to tailgate.
The coronavirus will be with us for some time, and it’s up to us to sort through how to enjoy our lives and restart our economy while keeping ourselves and our neighbors safe.
We’ll be pulling for the Saints today, but we’re also hoping that the other 31 NFL teams stay healthy and stay strong, so the league can finish the season and the Saints can still win the Super Bowl.
The Advocate on black owned businesses and the pandemic:
This ugly COVID-19 pandemic has hurt a lot of us. Nothing is the same. Everyday life has been disrupted. Education is nothing like it was before. Jobs have been lost as business has slumped, or disappeared.
In Louisiana, where so much of our economy is tied to gas and oil, entertainment and hospitality, it’s no surprise that so many small businesses are suffering, or even closed. The number of White-owned businesses fell 17% between February and April, according to a University of California-Santa Cruz professor’s study. But Black-owned businesses have been particularly hit hard during this COVID-19 pandemic, according to economics professor Robert Fairlie. Black businesses fell by about 41% in that same period.
The nation established a Paycheck Protection Program to help smaller businesses get through this public health emergency while keeping people employed and limiting the need for unemployment. But the U.S. Small Business Administration’s inspector general has indicated that some minority, rural and female-owned businesses likely didn’t get PPP loans because the established processes and structures didn’t prioritize attention on these types of businesses.
It was disappointing to read how some of our state’s most loved restaurants are hurting as social distancing policies limit seating to 50% capacity indoors and no bar seating. In New Orleans alone, Central City’s Sportsman’s Corner operated at 25% capacity, moved to curbside only, then closed. Treme’s Willie Mae’s Scotch House is getting by, for now, with only takeout meals. Perhaps the most unfortunate news was learning that Wayne Baquet’s Lil Dizzy’s Café reopened after a pandemic-forced closure only to close again, and now it is for sale.
The pandemic has hit Baton Rouge Black businesses hard, too. In a survey, almost 60% of those businesses told the Baton Rouge Area Chamber that they have been hurt. That’s far more than the 40% of the Black businesses nationwide saying they were financially damaged.
The virus is challenging businesses, especially Black businesses. The Scotch House is one of the few Black businesses that’s received a PPP loan, and that’s a shame that there were not more. As U.S. Senate and House leaders consider economic stimulus options with the White House, they need to keep in mind Baquet, Stewart and others who operate Black businesses so critical to community backbones and cultures. Though there are reports that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have had some communication, we don’t expect anything significant to happen right away.
Congressional leaders may be taking a break, but these Black businesses — and they are not alone — are on forced breaks. It’s not vacation. They’re trying to survive. They need congressional help.