San Francisco World Spirits Competition: I Will Not Be a Judge This Year


March 12, 2020

It’s with a heavy heart I announce I will not be participating in this year’s San Francisco World Spirits Competiton. My reason, as you may expect, is the pandemic sweeping the world known as the Coronavirus.

I had been monitoring closely and figured I could travel with proper mediating efforts, such as washing hands, vitamin C intake and staying six feet away from people. I was planning to go up until yesterday when I received an email from a conference I emcee’d that had a neighboring conference with two infected members one day after I had left.

Even before this incident, my wife, who is on the COVID 19 Incident Command at her VA hospital, and I discussed risk, information and impact of my travel on our family.

While I was not exposed, that incident hit close to home. When I told my wife, I realized how I could put her at risk with my travel. If I caught it, I’d be fine; I’m healthy. But if I passed it onto her as a carrier, who’d be fine as well,  she’d be in a hospital with Vietnam, Korean and World War II vets and could possibly give them the virus. 

These travel bans, cancellations and more are, in effect, protecting some of our greatest Americans, who’ve built and fought for this country. Please remember that as you criticize the cancellations.

I am also making this decision out of respect to my wife. At any given moment, she could be required to be at the hospital. And if I get quarantined, because I ate at McDonald’s in an airport and a server had it, or whatever, I would put her in a tough spot. She would be forced to manage an incredibly difficult job amidst widespread school cancellations and a quarantined husband. I couldn’t risk it. We spoke as a family and made the difficult decision.

I told the competition and they supported me with the utmost respect and well wishes. 

I will still write about the winners and provide videos. But for the first time since 2012, I will not be among the judges. Last year’s was historic, and I regret I won’t be there to witness another great year.

I wish my colleagues all the best and will see you at Foley’s next year for a pint.