In late December, as the Omicron wave crested in the Northeast, I took my youngest son to a New York Knicks game.
It wasn’t a decision my wife and I took lightly. We’d secured the tickets at a time when COVID was in slow retreat and, anticipating the usual holiday chaos, made sure everyone was vaxxed with time to spare.
Then came Omicron. But even as his second-grade classroom emptied amid a rash of infections and just-in-case quarantines, the little guy’s excitement kept building. So for the first time in 20 months, we donned our Knicks gear and prepared to commune at the Mecca of basketball with 18,000 fellow zealots.
Walking into the arena, masked and flashing vaccination cards like a backstage pass, I simultaneously felt like the best and worst dad in the world. Best, because there were sports and cotton candy and, at halftime, a bunch of dudes in Santa suits launching Jordan-grade dunks off a trampoline. Worst, because, you know, pandemic.
Within moments of the opening tip, the former impulse overwhelmed the latter one. We cheered and squawked and bantered just as we did prior to March 2020. The kid enthusiastically participated in an off-color chant directed at Atlanta’s Trae Young that we agreed not to discuss with his mom.
I was on the way out of Madison Square Garden when it hit me: I was over it. I’d taken nearly every precaution I could take. I masked when I was supposed to mask and sometimes when I wasn’t. I received my vaccine two-fer and my booster.
It’s an imperfect analogy, but I never worried about getting measles. It was time to stop worrying about getting COVID.
In examining the results of the MM+M/Swoop 2022 Healthcare Marketers Survey (p. 20), one senses a similar over-it vibe. Budgets have nudged upward in the last two years, though they still fall short of their 2019 pinnacle. But medical marketers aren’t responding as they might have in the past (“we need to learn to do more with less”).
Instead, they’re kicking the tires on a host of digital programs that, frankly, they probably wouldn’t have been able to justify or stomach in the Before Times. There’s a spirit of innovation that’s exciting to ponder and inspiring to cover.
The Knicks won the game and my son and I passed our days-after COVID tests with flying colors (or, rather, an appropriately faint line on the home test kit’s swab card). By the time you read this, he’ll be unmasked at school and I’ll be attempting to cram myself into a suit to attend a series of MM+M events. We’ll acknowledge the ongoing risk and hope for the best.