Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a member and past president of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year 10 times and has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
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Social distancing is still best thing right now
It has been encouraging in the world of perspiring arts to see the positive attitude of the NFL.
The march to playing the 2020-21 season has been one of courage and determination.
In a society starved for sports for the last 60-plus days, for the NFL to proceed with its draft and then announce the season’s schedule was like the good old days of last year.
However, it is all just planning, or at least that’s what Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading voice on the covid-19 virus as the director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, indicated this past weekend when he was interviewed by Peter King on NBC.
“Right now, if you fast forward, and it is now September,” he said, “the season starts. I say you can’t have a season — it’s impossible. There’s too much infection out there. It doesn’t matter what you do. But I would hope that by the time you get to September, it’s not gonna be the way it is right now.”
Here’s part of the shadow that falls on the hope of hearing “play ball” once again.
Too many people still believe this virus is just another form of the flu.
It is not.
This virus has taken the lives of more than 80,000 Americans and more than 285,000 worldwide in less than four months.
There are more than 1.3 million cases of Americans who have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Yet, instead of everyone being like Mike (Michael Jordan) and fighting every day to win, thousands upon thousands refuse to social distance or wear a mask, and those people don’t just endanger themselves, but all of us.
Not saying those people are losers, but they are keeping us from a win over this virus.
Being able to bench press 400 pounds doesn’t prevent the virus. The virus doesn’t know age, gender or economic status.
It is passed from one person to the other.
That’s the concern about sports starting back up.
“If you have one outlier [only one player testing positive], I think you might get away,” Fauci said. “But once you wind up having a situation where it looks like it’s spread within a team, you got a real problem. You gotta shut it down.”
In other words, if the University of Arkansas Razorbacks are going to have a football season and if the SEC is going to be active this September, it is up to us and all the other people in the SEC footprint.
Just because things have improved and most states are showing a decline, it doesn’t mean this fight is over.
The people shopping for groceries without masks, and especially those talking on their cell phones and keeping a social distance are the problem.
Maybe it is time stores forbid cell phones except for texting.
Maybe it is time people wake up and realize the reason for slowly reopening the state and country is NOT because the virus has been beaten, but that economics is dictating that decision, whether made by President Donald Trump or Governor Asa Hutchinson.
To responsibly get to the point where the NFL or colleges play football is up to us.
“If the virus is so low that even in the general community the risk is low, then I could see filling a third of the stadium or half the stadium so people could be six feet apart,” Fauci said.
Get the point: Social distancing is going to be with us for a while.
If SEC football fans stay home and practice social distancing in the future, the chances are much better of seeing Alabama play Auburn this fall.
NFL owners, college athletic directors and conference commissioners can state their plans for their season. That’s a good thing, but the bottom line is that it is up to us to do the smart thing.
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