Hall-of-famer Charles Barkley believes all professional sports leagues should require players to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and branded those who have refused to get the shot as ‘a**holes.’
In an interview with CNBC, the former basketball star announced that he received the COVID vaccine and recommended others do the same.
‘Yes I’m vaccinated,’ he said. ‘Everybody should be vaccinated, period.’
‘The only people who are not vaccinated are just a**holes,’ he said, adding that he believes professional sports leagues should mandate their players and staff members get the shot.
‘Can you imagine if one of these guys that are not vaccinated, if they get one of the players’ kids, wives, girlfriends, moms and dads sick, and they die over some unnecessary conspiracy bulls***? I think that would be tragic,’ he said, and compared professional sports leagues to any other business.
‘There’s s*** you can’t do at work, and there’s s*** you have to do at work,’ Barkley, 58, said. ‘So every workplace has rules, and I think one of the rules [should be] that guys have to be vaccinated.’
NBA star Charles Barkley said he thinks all professional sports leagues should mandate their players be vaccinated against the coronavirus in a recent interview with CNBC
He played basketball professionally for the Philadelphi 76ers
He also called anyone who refuses to get a COVID vaccine an ‘a**hole’ and said players should not get sick because of ‘conspiracy bulls***.’ Here, anti-vaxxers protested the requirement to show proof of vaccination to get into the Foo Fighters concert at Madison Square Garden in June
A large percentage of professional athletes have received the vaccine, the leagues report, but the NFL, NBA and MLB do not require their players to get vaccinated.
The NFL and the MLB require those who interface directly with the players to get vaccinated, however, and the NFL released new guidelines that would penalize unvaccinated players with stricter protocols – and possible fines or team forfeits if an unvaccinated player violates the new rules.
As of July 23, the number of NFL players who had gotten the jab reached 80 percent, with nine teams reporting 90 percent or more were vaccinated, according to the Associated Press.
Dr. Allen Sills, the league’s medical director, said at the time that nearly all Tier 1 and Tier 2 employees – those who deal directly with the players – had been vaccinated, and there were only five teams that had less than 70 percent of its players receive a shot.
He said he was optimistic that the number of vaccinated players will continue to rise as training camps reopen.
‘I think we are off to an excellent start,’ he said. ‘Those numbers are much higher than we’re seeing in society as a whole.’
The MLB, meanwhile, announced in June, that a 23rd team had reached the 85 percent vaccination threshold for players and on-field personnel, with 85.4 percent of its Tier 1 and 2 staff members fully vaccinated and 86.5 percent receiving at lest one dose.
Once a team in the league reaches an 85 percent vaccination rate among Tier 1 and 2 employees – the percentage considered high enough to protect players in a locker room or clubhouse, according to the Los Angeles Times – it has the option to apply loosened protocols to those in Tier 2.
And in the NBA, Michele Roberts, executive director of the National Basketball Players’ Association, told Yahoo Sports on July 8, 90 percent of its players had been vaccinated.
‘I had individual conversations with players who were rabidly opposed t a vaccination, who I know got vaccinated, ultimately,’ she said. ‘And it ended up being … a personal decision, where the guys wanted to work through their concerns.
‘We had meetings with all the teams. And they were asking – those who were inclined to be vaccinated and those who weren’t – asking very, very tough questions of our docs.’
‘And then I’m told that there were team meetings, player only, where they internally discuss their concerns.’
A majority of all professional athletes have received the COVID vaccine, data shows
Nearly 70 percent of all American adults have received at least one vaccine
But just about half of the total population has received one dose
Still, several professional athletes have been outspoken about their decision not to get vaccinated.
Buffalo Bills’ Cole Beasley tweeted in June that he is not vaccinated and does not plan to get the vaccine.
‘I’m not going to take meds for a leg that isn’t broken,’ he wrote. ‘I’d rather take my chances with COVID and build up my immunity that way. Eat better. Drink water. Exercise and do what I think is best.
‘This is my choice based on my experiences and what I think is best.’
He added that he would play for free this year if he had to ‘to live life how I’ve lived from Day One.
‘If I’m forced into retirement, so be it, I’ve enjoyed the times I’ve hd. I’ll get to live freely with my wife, kids and extended family forever.’
On July 20, he doubled down on his assertion, writing: ‘I’ll get vaccinated and be an advocate for it if Pfizer put a percentage of its earnings from the vaccine in my wife’s name.’
Billionaire Mark Cuban responded that he would buy Beasley’s wife a share – worth $41 at the time – if he got vaccinated.
Cole Beasley of the Buffalo Bills has said he will not get a COVID vaccine
Minnesota Vikings assistant coach Rick Dennison, left, and New England Patriots co-offensive line coach Cole Popovich, right, have both been suspended from playing next season due to their decisions not to get the vaccine
The NFL, though, set up new restrictions over the summer for unvaccinated players – including that they must be tested daily, wear masks at team facilities and will not be allowed to leave the hotel when they are on the road.
Any Tier 1 staff member who refuses to get vaccinated must also provide a valid religious or medical reason for not getting the vaccine, or risk losing their status, preventing them from being on the field, in meeting rooms and having direct interactions with players.
Minnesota Vikings assistant coach Rick Dennison and New England Patriots co-offensive line coach Cole Popovich are now both suspended from playing next season due to their decisions not to get the vaccine, the NFL announced.
Meanwhile, in the larger United States, nearly 70 percent of adults have received at least one vaccine, with about 57 percent of all Americans receiving at least one dose as the Delta variant continues to spread.
As of August 1, there have been 34.9 million COVID cases reported over the past 30 days, with the average number of new cases per day nearly doubling in the past 10 days, according to Reuters.