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  • Last modified 235 days ago (Dec. 9, 2020)

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Life-and-death sports

We love sports — so much so that we interrupted writing this to watch yet another all-too-thrilling KU basketball game.

We got in the position of writing it late because we frittered away all our free time Saturday watching a KU football game. Sticking through all three hours of KU football ought to definitively prove any sports fan’s metal — or, perhaps, mental deficiency.

We’re proud of the effort, determination, and sportsmanship local high school and middle school students demonstrate in abundance by representing their communities in prep sports even when they aren’t likely to be much more competitive for championship seasons than the KU football team is.

But we need to keep sports in perspective. Sports are fun — something to break up the monotony of learning. We enjoy the games. We want to win. But sports, especially at the local level, isn’t a matter of life or death.

Until, that is, the state activities association decided Tuesday that it was more interested in listening to boisterous boosters than to scientific experts.

As parents, we all want to see our kids do well in whatever activities they undertake. But the sensible thing amid a pandemic is not to allow games to go forward as usual, with parents in attendance. It’s to postpone the season, as Centre has had the good sense to do, until it can be carried out safely.

It’s no coincidence that Big Ten and Pac-12 schools that delayed their football seasons tend to be universities of much higher academic reputations than those in the SEC, which plowed ahead. Regardless, all are finding, as even NFL teams have found, that the pandemic is stronger than any competing teams they might face.

In the big-money, TV world of high-level college and pro sports, daily testings and millions upon millions of dollars in protective equipment haven’t prevented the disease’s spread. How can we expect smaller-scale prep sports to be anything but less safe?

So what if we have to wait a few months and schedule fewer games. If we can stall spread of a disease that threatens to overload hospitals, leaving no room for new patients, including the normal flow of sick and injured, wouldn’t it be worth it?

The state activities association had it right when it initially planned to delay sports until after the first of the year and to conduct most events, at least at first, in empty arenas.

The fact that it ignored science to pay attention instead to die-hard fans who may unfortunately live up to that monicker is hardly a lesson worth modeling for the young people they are supposed to be guiding.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified Dec. 9, 2020

 

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