Charles Barkley said that professional athletes deserve to get the coronavirus vaccines sooner since they pay more in taxes.
That’s the same logic as giving the first-class passengers on the Titanic priority access to the lifeboats.
“We need three hundred million shots; give a thousand to some NBA players, [NFL players], hockey players,” Barkley said. “Listen, as much taxes as these players pay – let me repeat that: As much taxes as these players pay, they deserve some preferential treatment.”
The Hall-of-Fame basketball player and current NBA analyst argued that athletes should be allowed to jump to the front of the vaccination line during a recent episode of “Inside the NBA” on TNT. Barkley’s seemingly astonished co-analyst Kenny Smith asked if he meant that people who pay more should get special treatment even “for life or death,” to which Barkley replied, “Yes.”
Smith pushed back by saying that “the amount of money you make” shouldn’t determine when a person receives the vaccine. Barkley argued that giving “a thousand shots to NBA players is not going to change the world,” but Smith shut the conversation down shortly thereafter, saying, “We can’t go there. I don’t think you can go there.”
Vaccine priority is currently being given to front-line health care workers who are at high risk of being exposed to the virus, the elderly, and those with pre-existing conditions that make them more susceptible to possible complications or death. Young, healthy athletes are not high risk.
Barkley played for the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, and Houston Rockets during his NBA career, where he scored more than 23,000 points and made more than 12,000 rebounds. He also won two gold medals as a player on the USA’s “Dream Team” during the 1992 and 1996 Olympics.