In the wake of fears about the swine flu, the Nationwide Tour will postpone the Mexican Open, which was scheduled for May 18 – 24 at the El Bosque Golf Club in Leon, Guanajuato. At the same time, the Canadian Tour announced that it would postpone the San Luis Potosi Open, the Yucatan Country Club Classic and the Iberostar Riviera Maya Open.
I can’t help but think that this panic is overblown and purely media driven. Does anyone remember the swine flu “epidemic” of 1976? Following the illness of 500 soldiers—and the death of one—at Fort Dix in New Jersey, the nation went into a collective panic, which resulted in President Ford ordering a nationwide immunization program. But that in itself backfired, as the shots were implicated in the deaths of some twenty-five other people. Twenty four percent of the population had received their shots, and fears of bad vaccines touched off even more panic.
It’s ironic. The “cure” was twenty-five times more deadly than the disease.
There was another swine flu panic in 1988, following the death of a woman in Wisconsin. And, of course, there were the SARS and Avian Bird Flu panics of recent years. The media just loves this stuff.
The fear, of course, is that the current swine flu will turn into something like the 1918 – 1919 pandemic, which killed as many as 100 million in six months. The so-called Spanish Flu (actually an Asian Avian flu) was probably the deadliest outbreak of disease in history. I’ve read several books on the subject and what strikes me about the incident is that it occurred under conditions which would be hard to replicate today: the end of WWI, large masses of men in close-quarters military bases, generally unsanitary conditions, poor nutrition, and other war-related problems.
My totally cynical prediction: the current administration uses this “public health crisis” as an excuse to nationalize the nations’ health care system. But here’s food for thought. Mexico, which has socialized health care, has suffered as many as 150 deaths, and as of today, newspaper reports were that the families of the dead still had not been given inoculations. The US, which has a private health care system, has not suffered a single death, but our system is ramping up with medical personnel on high alert. (Yes, I know the media is reporting that there has been a US death, but if you read beyond the headlines, you’ll see that it was a Mexican kid who was brought into the US when the US when the socialized medicine in Mexico failed to help him)
But back to golf. I can think of lots of reasons to cancel tournaments in Mexico, but all are related to the country’s rampant drug-related violence. Mexico had 5,236 drug related deaths in 2008—that we know of. That didn’t cancel tournaments. But 150 flu deaths does.
Someone needs to put things into perspective.