A Friendly Reminder That Your Favorite BJJ Athletes (Probably) Aren’t Experts On Infectious Diseases

Pixabay: rottonara

This is a rare instance in which I won’t even be mad if you share this post after only reading the title, because really, the title is all that should need to be said.

However, just in case there’s any confusion, a black belt in jiu-jitsu or an impressive UFC record doesn’t make them an expert in anything but their chosen martial art(s). Everyone — including and especially athletes, who are missing out on training and competitive opportunities — has an opinion of some kind about the current COVID-19 pandemic. In a perfect world, everyone would back up their opinions with scholarly journals and direct quotes from actual experts in the field, but two minutes of scrolling on Facebook will remind you that we don’t live in such a utopia.

There are multiple high-profile athletes in our sport who are extremely intelligent. Among them is Lachlan Giles, who — in addition to being the People’s Hero at ADCC last year — holds a Ph.D. in physiotherapy and has released multiple peer-reviewed publications of his own. Even so, when choosing to share information about the outbreak and its impact on BJJ, he still chose to speak directly with someone who is an expert in a more relevant field by giving Dr. Jérôme Fennell, clinical microbiologist and Head of Infection Control at Dublin’s Tallaght University Hospital, a platform to share his expert opinion with the BJJ world.

Black belt Gillian Davis, who has also earned her Ph.D. (in microbiology and molecular genetics), has also stated that even with all of the knowledge she’s learned over the course of her academic and professional career, she still follows the advice of people who are actively researching the topic in their field.

If you’ve ever had to explain to a doctor what jiu-jitsu is and came out of the interaction feeling like they still think it’s the same as karate, you probably felt the same way any doctor would feel while reading or listening to the medical advice of a grappler who has never been to medical school. There are also plenty of athletes out there giving great advice that they got from reputable sources like the World Health Organization (WHO). However, if their advice goes against what the actual, certified experts are saying (which is to practice social distancing to slow the growth of this dangerous, rapidly spreading illness), then continue to take your infectious disease advice from infectious disease experts and your jiu-jitsu advice from jiu-jitsu experts.

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