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Leagues and Governing Bodies

Top NFL doctor Sills pushes back on Belichick's vaccine comments

Belichick questioned the effectiveness of COVID vaccines because of the number of vaccinated players and coaches to contract the virusGETTY IMAGES

After Patriots coach Bill Belichick "questioned the overall effectiveness of vaccination for NFL players" in a press conference last week, NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills has become Belichick’s "highest-profile critic on the topic," according to Matt Vautour of the Springfield REPUBLICAN. In an interview with NFL Network's Judy Battista, Sills said, “We released our data last week from the first three weeks of August, and that data has consistently shown higher rates of infection in unvaccinated players than in vaccinated players." Sills: "We know that vaccines are working. ... The vaccines were designed to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death. They’re doing a terrific job of that so far, not only in the NFL where we haven’t seen any serious cases but in society as a whole.” Vautour noted the the data Sills is referring to is that "between Aug. 1-21, the NFL had 68 positive results among 7,190 tests," a positivity rate of 0.95%. Vaccinated players "were positive at a rate" of 0.3%, while unvaccinated players tested positive at 2.2%, which was "seven times higher." Unvaccinated players are "tested daily." Vaccinated players "were tested every 14 days during the timetable when that data was collected." They will be tested "every seven days going forward" under new protocols developed by the league and union (Springfield REPUBLICAN, 9/4).

BELICHICK RESPONDS: Belichick yesterday clarified his remarks about the efficacy of vaccines, saying, "My comment relative to the vaccinations or, really, the way I feel is that that’s an individual decision for each person to make. As a team, we’re better off if everybody is vaccinated. That being said, even if everybody was vaccinated, it doesn’t solve all of our problems" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/7). PFT’s Mike Florio said of Belichick's clarification, “I think somebody squeezed him a little bit, twisted his arm a little bit, to get him to come out and say what he said" (“PFT,” NBCSN, 9/7).

SBJ Spotlight: TikTok’s threat to traditional sports media

While tech companies are consumed with finding ways to compete with TikTok, almost no one in conventional media “spends any time talking about it,” said Recode senior correspondent Peter Kafka in an Spotlight interview with SBJ’s John Ourand. “To me, that’s just an obvious disconnect.” Kafka authored a recent column headlined, “It’s TikTok’s world. Can TV live in it?” He said the main response to TikTok’s growth from traditional media execs has been to “punt and hope it’s someone else’s problem a quarter from now or two years from now.” But Kafka said that ignores the trend of conventional broadcast audiences growing older while a billion younger consumers spend most of their media time watching short video after short video. “If you’re in the business of getting anyone under the age of 30 to look at what you’re putting on a screen, you have to think about the fact that you’re probably asking them to put down TikTok and watch your thing instead,” said Kafka. “That’s a very difficult ask. … [TikTok] is insanely addictive.”

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