Generally speaking, it’s a bad idea to wade into the quagmire of a comment section on the internet.
There are exceptions, of course — oases of rational discourse and uplifting conversation in a desolate desert — but, for the most part, you should avoid the comments. That’s particularly true when it comes to the current COVID-19 pandemic, where scads of misinformation and bizarre politicization of a health issue have turned the simple act of getting a vaccine into a hot-button topic.
Toss in something that people are already passionate about — like, say, a hockey team — and things get downright ugly.
The province of B.C. announced Monday that proof of vaccination will be required for non-essential services in the wake of another wave of COVID-19 cases. It turns out that hockey games are not essential and the Vancouver Canucks quickly confirmed that proof of vaccination will be required to attend Canucks games at both Rogers Arena and the Abbotsford Centre for the coming season.
By October 24, which happens to be two days before the Canucks first home game on October 26, British Columbians will need to be fully vaccinated, which means two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine with at least seven days clearance after their second dose.
On Tuesday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the mask mandate is back for indoor public spaces, meaning Canucks fans will need both proof of vaccination and a mask to cheer on their favourite team in person.
Some Canucks fans are not happy with the policy
Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini tweeted out his support, saying that he appreciates the “clear and sensible direction on this issue.”
If you delved into the comments section of the Canucks' announcement on social media, you might think that Canucks fans don’t see it as quite so clear and sensible.
The tame comments might call it “ridiculous” or “sad.” Others might go as far as calling the requirement “totalitarian,” “discriminatory,” “a violation of human rights,” and “segregation.”
Requiring proof of vaccination to attend a hockey game in the middle of a pandemic is, of course, none of those things.
You’ll likely see someone suggesting that they’ll find a new team to support but they could have a tough time doing so. The Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets already have a proof-of-vaccination policy, and other teams may follow suit. The Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs will allow attendance with a negative test result in lieu of proof of vaccination but that may not last if cases continue to rise or an Oilers or Leafs game is the source of a COVID-19 outbreak.
Majority of Canucks fans want proof of vaccination
All of these angry comments might lead one to believe that this policy will be a disaster for the Canucks and other businesses. Clearly, people are upset.
But the important thing to keep in mind is that these angry voices are in the minority. The vast majority of Canadians — and Canucks fans — support requiring proof of vaccination.
National polling data suggests that 81% of Canadians support either mandatory COVID-19 vaccination or limited access to some places for the unvaccinated.
When the Winnipeg Jets announced their proof-of-vaccination policy, they noted that the majority of their fans and season ticket holders would “only feel comfortable attending games if we required proof of vaccination.”
Informal Twitter polls suggest that the response from Canucks fans is much the same. The vast majority of fans want the Canucks to require proof of vaccination. The fans who don’t are very vocal but few in number.
Keep that in mind when you see comments claiming the Canucks will lose business from this policy and will struggle to sell tickets. The opposite is likely true: the Canucks will sell more tickets because fans feel more comfortable going to games knowing that everyone else in attendance is also vaccinated.
The truly ironic comments, of course, are from the people claiming that now they won’t go to games. Yes, that’s the point. If you’re unvaccinated, you can’t go. You can’t boycott a place that won’t let you in.
The NHL has also stated that any staff interacting with players or hockey operations personnel must also be vaccinated. What is as yet unclear is whether the COVID-19 vaccine will be mandatory for players.
The NHL is unlikely to mandate vaccines for the players — no other major sports league in North America has done so — but the players could be affected by provincial or federal policies.