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Let’s get something straight: shit is crazy right now.

I’m not sure if you’re aware, but things have gotten to be a little outrageous in the world at large, which has seriously threatened the upcoming college football season. And with good reason, quite frankly. It blows my mind to think about how this pandemic has shaped the world, and my life in particular, since we became aware of it in the early spring. I was on a charter bus coming home from an NCAA Division III tournament game when things really began spiraling, and it was essentially all that was talked about for the five hour and change drive.

It’s staggering to me that we’re still talking about it, and that we’re so much worse off than we should be.

I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, of course, given how frequently history repeats itself. If you read up on the Spanish Flu, you’ll see a striking number of similarities to how that pandemic played out in the United States (though in fairness, that disease was aided by the fact that the virus that came back from World War I was different than the one that originally plagued the world; thanks a lot, trench warfare).

Still, I kept holding out hope that maybe Americans weren’t as dumb, or as selfish, as I initially imagined. To borrow a line from Men In Black, “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it.”

And unfortunately, that’s apt — especially if those people are Americans, apparently. I specify because look at the rest of the world: across Europe, professional soccer leagues have been in full swing, without a bubble (and fans, of course) with essentially zero hiccups. New Zealand hasn’t had a positive Covid case in months. Yet here in the United States, we’re on the verge of losing the college football season, and maybe even more. If college football can’t be played, it could wind up being disastrous for universities across the country. It could wind up basically bankrupting athletics departments at higher levels, and being equally bad for lower levels — like Division III, for example — for different reasons. If athletes can’t play, they might start taking gap years. If too many athletes take gap years, that’s lost tuition and room and board. That’s essential revenue for smaller schools. If that revenue stream is lost, you’re about to see a lot of schools closing their doors for good.

This is not a scare tactic, by the way. This is reality. I work at a small college. This is the fear I live with every single goddamn day. And all I can hope for is that people take some accountability and responsibility, because that’s what we need to be able to get through this.

Wear a fucking mask, y’all. I’m just going to be direct about it. I work with someone who was skeptical about all of this… until her son contracted Covid. He’s not hospitalized, but he’s been dealing with the virus for two weeks. I didn’t know this until today, when we began to talk about it. If you guys didn’t know — and at this point, especially if you follow me on Twitter, how could you not? — I’m very liberal. This woman is extremely conservative. And she told me that once her son was diagnosed as having Covid, that changed things for her. He’s in his early 20s, was a former athlete, and is in great physical health — and he’s been dealing with this virus for two weeks. This is not something that’s just going to vanish. It’s not going to disappear. It’s not going to magically go away.

It requires all of us working together, making a minor sacrifice now — for just a few more months — in order to get back to normal sooner. It boggles my mind when I hear people talking about how wearing a mask is an affront to their personal freedoms, as if George Fucking Washington fought for your right to refuse scientific advice that will literally help contain a global pandemic.

You’re pissed off about wearing a mask for 20 minutes when you go to the grocery store? Fuck you. Think about the people on ventilators who might never recover. Think about the people potentially dealing with long-term after effects of what’s still a mysterious disease, the impact of which won’t be fully understood for years, or maybe even decades.

It’s a fucking joke that people still refuse to wear a mask. If you’re one of those people, I’ve got a newsflash: the world doesn’t revolve around you. Wearing a mask isn’t a personal choice. It’s a choice to maintain public safety. If you’re wearing a mask, you’re not doing it to protect yourself; you’re doing it to protect everyone you come into contact with. Keep your goddamn droplets to your goddamn self when you can’t maintain social distancing.

Why is this hard?

Spoiler alert: it’s not. It turns out, Americans are just stubborn and, sadly, prone to making a pandemic political. Public health crises should never become political, yet here we are. Partisanship has no business entering this equation, because we should — in theory — all be in this together. Sadly, misinformation and conspiracy theories are too often peddled by certain people, and too many are drinking the Kool-Aid. This hurts everyone in the nation, and keeps us from getting our lives back.

Look at Europe. Look at their professional soccer leagues. They’ve been playing without a bubble all summer. Meanwhile, Major League Baseball is on the verge of calling it quits because of multiple outbreaks. College football is on the precipice of doing the same. And why? Because people refuse to believe in science. If we’d taken this seriously from the jump, there’s a good chance we wouldn’t be fretting about whether or not a season could be played. We wouldn’t be talking about whether or not colleges will close their doors for good. Whether colleges will need to cut non-revenue producing programs to stay afloat. Whether the risk of long-term health concerns are too much for 18-22 year olds to risk.

So please, I’m fucking begging you: wear a mask. Social distance. My actual job depends on it and, more importantly, lives do as well.

You want football — and basketball — back within the next six months?

Wear a fucking mask.

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Jeff is a 2003 graduate of Syracuse University, and has been published on various websites including Cracked.com, Spike.com, TheSportster.com, Gunaxin.com, and TopTenz.net, among others. His work was featured in the New York Times bestselling book You Might Be a Zombie and Other Bad News. He's got a wife, and a toddler he's brainwashing to love Syracuse. Jeff's a pretty great guy, overall, and would never steal your car. Follow him on Twitter: @jekelish