Many people have fallen too deep into fear of COVID-19 to function rationally, despite the proven effectiveness of vaccines and the new omicron variant still showing to be less lethal than previous variants. The NHL is a prime example.

Like other major sports leagues, the NHL is grappling with a surge in COVID cases among players. The league is panicking, despite only one player in the entire league being unvaccinated. The league has postponed games and recently began its Christmas break two days early, shuttering team facilities on Wednesday and returning to playing games on Monday.

All it takes to stop COVID is two extra days of isolation. Go figure.

The NHL has brought back daily testing and will add “additional pre-game testing” when a team has an outbreak. The postponements are continuing to add up, and the league has no real answer but to retreat into the shell of obsessive testing and cancellations.

The league believed in the vaccine so much that it urged all players to get vaccinated. It punished Evander Kane of the San Jose Sharks for forging a vaccination card. And yet, the NHL is treating the vaccine as if it doesn’t work. A few mild COVID cases, and several asymptomatic ones, were all it took for the league to treat the vaccine as if it is ineffective.

There is no reason for a league that is nearly 100% vaccinated to be frantically testing players and postponing games. There is no indication whatsoever that COVID is just going to disappear one day. We should be planning on COVID being around for a long time. Unless the NHL wants to test players obsessively and implement rolling postponements for years to come, there is no reason for the panic now.

The only reason we ever had to be concerned about cases was that they would lead to a similar surge in hospitalizations and deaths. That is simply not the case anymore. Whether omicron really is less lethal on its own or it has been neutered by widespread vaccination and natural immunity, we are not seeing anything showing that the waves of hospitalizations and deaths will be coming back.

There is somehow more panic about COVID in sports now, after the vaccine has been readily available for months, than last year, when leagues returned to competition with the vaccine still months away. There is no semblance of sanity in these decisions, and this can’t continue after 22 months of restrictions and mandates.