Nicely done, Stephen Curry. Nicely done, because, while it has often been said that sports fans will watch anything, especially around about now, this wasn’t just anything.
Curry’s interview with virus expert Dr. Anthony Fauci on Thursday was a shining example of the reality that sports is not just a pastime. Make of this what you will, but the games we watch and the athletes we admire have, over decades, become part of the fabric of the country.
And at a time when nothing is quite as we are accustomed to, the discussion was a prime reminder that sports is way less relevant than the value of human life, and way more than nothing.
In case you missed it, the Golden State Warriors guard and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases chatted about a wide range of topics related to COVID-19, from its impact on society, projections for when lockdown precautions may ease, as well as practical tips on how individuals can protect themselves.
Thank you to everyone who tuned in earlier today on Instagram Live! I wanted to make sure everyone had access to the conversation on COVID-19 with Dr. Fauci. Please share as much as possible. Thank you! #SCASKSFAUCI https://t.co/CtLGPy6Neg
— Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) March 26, 2020
Fauci has been a staple and popular figure on nationally televised press briefings from the White House, but even in this tumultuous moment in our modern history, those broadcasts are not as widely watched by teenagers and young adults as other sections of society.
The power of Curry’s involvement is his reach. He has more than 29 million followers on Instagram and 14 million-plus on Twitter. He wouldn’t claim to be a natural broadcaster or interviewer, but his conversation with Fauci struck a genuine and authentic tone. He put in a stint of 28 minutes, a little less than a good night’s shift for an NBA game. But, just as with his hoops career, there was a whole lot more preparation than just what you saw on the screen.
Curry was well-versed, having done his own research, and also appealed to his followers to provide pressing questions for Fauci to answer. One pertained to the likely timeline of a return to sporting normalcy, with the Olympics in Tokyo having been pushed to next year and significant questions still hanging over what will happen with the rest of the NBA campaign.
Most importantly of all, during a period where social media is a hive of rumors and speculation related to coronavirus, 55,000 people live and many times more afterwards tuned in to hear the best, most experienced source of such information in the country.
Dr. Fauci’s capacity to go on Hannity one night, do a video with Steph Curry and then go on Trevor Noah shows some real savviness on his behalf of knowing where to reach people. https://t.co/FypAvUxELv
— Eric Michael Garcia (@EricMGarcia) March 27, 2020
Fauci has unwittingly become a star, with viewers of White House briefings appreciating his candor and intelligence, and he was on point again.
“What you need is you need to see the trajectory of the curve start to come down,” Fauci explained, when asked about what would be required before sports events could be considered again. “We’ve seen that in China, they went up and down, they’re starting to get back to some normal life Europe, particularly Italy, is in a terrible situation, they’re still going way up. The United States is a big country, we have so many different regions.”
One of the biggest challenges in battling the current crisis is how to reach the youth audience. Even as large parts of the country went into lockdown last week, images of teenagers reveling in Miami on spring break were disseminated across various media platforms.
Someone like Curry, due to his basketball ability and charismatic personality, has more of a direct pipeline into that generation’s mentality than a politician or medical expert could ever hope for.
Barack Obama just popped into the @StephenCurry30 Q&A chat with Dr. Fauci. pic.twitter.com/QujEBSKDbH
— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) March 26, 2020
The chat came about after Curry’s friend and business partner Bryant Barr reached out to Fauci’s office. The doctor swiftly agreed, and so Curry, by taking on the role of questioner, added a dash of star power to the fight against the virus.
Celebrity viewers also included former President Barack Obama, pop star Justin Bieber, recording artist Common and a number of NBA basketball players and other athletes.
There are numerous ways for high-profile figures to help alleviate the public and intimate burden of the ongoing situation. Many athletes have donated money that can be used in vital ways.
Curry based his input on a basic idea that he put forward on the call: “Information is power.” In that sense he, and Fauci, flexed their muscles on Thursday.