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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Bridges: Professional sports need uniform COVID-19 policies

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Confused about your favorite team’s COVID-19 policy and how that impacts your ability to access their respective venues? Well, join the club and get ready for even more changes as the delta variant continues to spread through the United States, impacting crowds at sporting events.

While I’ve willingly provided my vaccination records to a great number of organizations and television networks, in addition to taking a countless number of COVID-19 tests to remain eligible to enter their property, one really needs a spreadsheet to track the various policies.

Why not a concept to simplify what is totally confusing and in some cases clearly ineffective? Well, that in itself would require the potential relinquishment of total control over how they acquire the coveted ticket revenue, and sell overpriced beer, concessions and parking.

Translation: Ain’t happening.

There has been, however, some logic demonstrated recently by the Las Vegas Raiders and the New Orleans Saints when they announced proof of vaccination and the wearing of masks would be mandatory for those attending their games.

Will other NFL teams follow suit? Probably to some degree, but I will be surprised (albeit, pleasantly) if they all mandate it this close to opening day.

Then there is the highly stale debate regarding the difference between an open-air stadium and the enclosed ones. Last time I checked, people are shoehorned into both so does it really matter?

The NFL is clearly the big dog in all of this and what they implement will be closely watched and, in many ways, emulated, but that doesn’t give college football, the NBA, NASCAR, MLB and all the various concert venues a free pass up until that decision is made.

A well-defined policy that does not provide for exception is all that needs to be established on a national basis. Pretty simple if you ask me. Show us your vaccination records and put on your mask. If you can’t do that, stay home and watch it on television. Sell your season tickets or donate them to a not-for-profit and recognize the tax deduction.

Either way, attend in a safe manner or forget about it.

Sound harsh? Hardly. Look in the mirror as you paint your faces in team colors before heading to the big game and remember while we are all responsible for our own health, there is an obligation to protect the guy sitting next to you in the bleachers as well.

I want sports to happen and regardless of what I think, they will. But there’s also a way for the games to be safe for everyone involved, and not just players and team personnel.

It’s time for the commissioners of the various leagues to drop the common-sense hammer and make vaccinations and masks mandatory. Police the stands and eject people who won’t comply with the mask mandates. Better yet, don’t allow them in to begin with.

Danny Bridges, who has received more hate mail over his COVID-19 opinions than any other subject he’s ever written about, can be reached at 317-370-8447 or bridgeshd@aol.com.

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