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Thankful for the return of spectator sports


Messenger Staff

 Several weekends ago, my son and I were walking down a sidewalk in Lexington on a beautiful October afternoon making our way towards Kroger Field to watch the Kentucky Wildcat football team play the University of Florida. We found ourselves lost in a sea of blue and white clad fans.

When I had bought the tickets as a birthday present for my son back in late July, I wasn’t quite sure if I would ultimately be a hero or goat regarding the purchase. Sure, I knew he would love the present. He is a diehard University of Kentucky football fan even if he is only 12 years old. What had me worried more than the possibility of a poor outcome at the game was the fact that, in late July, COVID surge panic mode was in full effect on the national and state level.

So, who knew what the next week, little alone October, would look like in terms of mandates. Would we even be able to go to the game or would it ultimately be canceled?  

 Fortunately, the numbers continuously dropped in regard to COVID cases, and the game was played without any COVID mandates. No masks or vaccine cards were required. It was enter on your own terms—masked or unmasked; vaccinated or nonvaccinated.

 A sell-out crowd showed up that day with 61,000 plus fans in the stadium at gametime. We stood and cheered the whole game in one of the most raucous environments I have ever been privileged to be a part of. My son is still talking about what an awesome night it was cheering the Wildcats on as they knocked off the number 10 ranked team in the nation. It was chicken soup for the soul.

There have been no reports of COVID super spreader events as a result of this or any other of the large sporting events that have taken place over the last month or two. If there is one thing you can be sure of, it isn’t because no one has checked to see. You can bet Dr. Fauci and others would love nothing more than to find a correlation and shut it all back down.

For many of us, the return of sports and spectators has been huge. It has signaled, somewhat, a return to normalcy. There is something about cheering on a favorite team that allows us to stoke our inner competitive spirit in a much more fulfilling and healthy way than politics and legacy media have offered in their absence. Rooting on Wildcats, Cardinals, Cowboys or RedSox is much more constructive than Democrats and Republicans. In the former, at least someone ultimately wins. In the later, we all lose.

 For children like my son, who lost both the sports they play and the teams they cheered for last year, it has been critical for sports to return. Not to mention, many of them, like him, suffered season ending injuries this year when they finally were allowed to return to the fields, diamonds and courts because of their inactivity last year. At least, in his case, he now has his favorite teams to root on again in the college and professional ranks.

 I have no problem with people who are overly cautious in terms of COVID. I totally understand. What I have a problem with is the overly cautious who wish to force everyone else to conform to their school of thought.

 Many of us have faced the virus and fortunately been blessed enough to have conquered it. As so, we should be allowed to live our lives again, however we so choose. For my son and me, we just wanted to be left alone and allowed to cheer on our favorite sports teams again. Thankfully, the University of Kentucky made that possible this year, and we are all the better for it.