Should We Penalize Pros Who Test Positive?

An interesting–if unrealistic–take from economist Tyler Cowen:

There is talk of the season being unsustainable, but it seems a simple remedy has not yet been tried — dock a player 30 percent of his salary if he tests positive.  That should limit the degree of nightclubbing and carousing, keeping in mind that the already-infected are probably some of the worst offenders and they have been “taken care of.”  Furthermore, the players would have a strong incentive to monitor each other, not wanting to be on the receiving end of an infection from a teammate.

The unions would never accept this, but I think it is an interesting proposition nonetheless. And there is a deeper point here, at the intersection of information, incentives, and behavior. We seem to have a pretty good grasp on the mechanisms of virus transmission, yet broad swathes of society aren’t acting in alignment with this publicly available information. The “bubble” formats offer a paternalistic approach that seems to have worked well, but of course can’t really be replicated across the public at large. If anything, this has me thinking about the return of students to college campuses: I can’t support penalizing students who test positive, but could we somehow reward those that don’t? (Obviously we don’t have the testing infrastructure to do so, but a professor can dream.)

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