Now Is the Time to Finish Strong

As the pandemic inches toward completion, here’s an important message: You’re not done yet

Photo: John M Lund Photography Inc/Getty Images

Heading into the final stretch of the women’s snowboard cross race at the 2006 Winter Olympics, American Lindsey Jacobellis held a commanding lead over her competitors. As she ascended the second-to-last jump, Jacobellis looked back to confirm her lead, flew into the air, then grabbed her board in a celebratory display of swagger. The showboating would have been no big deal except that when she landed, Jacobellis fell on her backside while Tanja Frieden of Switzerland zoomed past to win the gold medal.

This kind of showy blunder happens all the time in sports. NFL players DeSean Jackson and Danny Trevathan literally fumbled on the one-yard line, intentionally dropped the ball in “look how cool I am” touchdown celebrations without realizing they hadn’t yet crossed the goal line. During the XGames moto-x race, Meghan Rutledge pumped her fist in the air, blowing both the landing and her shot at victory.

Last week, I read an article about recently vaccinated older adults who have dropped all pretense of social distancing. After a year of being isolated, they are back at the bars and bridge clubs, doing their metaphorical celebration dances. While I certainly understand the urge to let loose or just get back to “normal” after a year of quarantine, I believe we should all be meditating on the immortal words of both Yogi Berra and Lenny Kravitz: “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

Think about how much time athletes spend training. Earning their place on these stages required years of predawn workouts, rigorous attention to diet, and the mental toughness to recover from injury. You don’t put in this kind of work to blow your lead right at the end.

Likewise, the country has paid an incredibly high cost to battle Covid: trillions of dollars in federal funds, 550,000 dead, and God-only-knows the long-term psychological cost, especially for children. With vaccines becoming readily available for everyone, victory appears to be in sight. 30% of U.S. adults have received the first shot, but even so, we are not yet in the end zone.

Reflecting on her premature celebration, Jacobellis said, “I was having fun.” Likewise, it’s easy for any of us to think, “Hey, I’ve done my part for an entire year — I deserve to let loose.” And you’d be right: Our individual and communal sacrifices have helped deliver us to the fourth quarter. But people continue to die. And even if you’ve had one of your two shots, you can still get sick.

Also remember, this isn’t an individual event — it’s a team sport. We are all in this together, and I don’t mean that in a false unity kind of way, but in a “your germs are literally my germs” kind of way. Still, a third of U.S. adults are skeptical about the vaccine, reporting that they may not or definitely will not get the shot. We need to acknowledge that they have concerns, but nudge them to make their appointments. Maybe share this video with the people in your life, and follow up.

Speaking of follow-up, if you’re a Pfizer or Moderna person, be sure to get both your shots and keep distancing for two weeks before you hit up the bars with the senior citizens.

We’re so close, friends. Stay focused, stick the landing, and finish the race.

Comedian. Host of the Crazy Money podcast. Proud former Facebook and Yahoo! sales person/leader. http://PaulOllinger.com/podcast

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