Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has begged pleaded and begged some more for Arkansans to wear face coverings or masks to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic which has plagued Arkansas since March.
It hasn’t totally worked, so last week he brought out the big guns.
Armed with a football at his daily update, he said there was a direct correlation between mask use and the start of football season. The day before he told the media he would not sign off on contact teams sports such as football and basketball scrimmaging or playing games.
Prep and collegiate players statewide continue to go through individual noncontact drills to prepare for a season they hope isn’t canceled.
“If you want football, high school football, high school sports this year and beyond that we need to concentrate on the mask now,” Hutchinson said last Wednesday. “There’s a connection between the two.
“We wear our masks, we reduce the cases, we reduce the growth, we stop the spread of the virus. And that puts us in a better position to have some type of team sports this fall.”
Hutchinson, a big sports fan himself, knows exactly what football means to this state. He knows many are anticipating new Arkansas coach Sam Pittman’s debut. Football is part of the fabric of this state and not to mention a big money maker.
It’s important for many reasons.
And that’s exactly why he saw it fitting to bring the pigskin to his daily briefing.
As a last-ditch attempt he tried to appeal to our love of football to get us to do the right thing because in stopping the spread for the selfish reason to watch football, we could also save lives and help bring order to our state.
Surely mentioning that football will be canceled will be a motivator, right?
Wrong. Sadly, I’m not sure the tactic will work — some people are just set on digging in their heels and refusing to buy in.
I saw several instances on social media this weekend in Arkansas where large groups gathered with no masks and no social distancing.
On Sunday, I took my kids fishing and watched in disbelief as very few spectators at a softball tournament near our fishing hole wore masks or paid attention to each other as they left the field for the parking lot.
That same park has enforced a mask rule while walking about for youth league baseball games and travel baseball tournaments but for some reason it wasn’t being enforced Sunday for softball.
What was even more alarming is teams from out of state including some hot spots flocked to the tournament. On Saturday at a local restaurant, we ran into a carload of girls and parents at with Texas plates on Saturday — none of which were wearing masks.
There are many different reasons Arkansans won’t wear masks.
From what I’ve seen on social media the popular reasons are liberty and doubt that COVID-19 is as dangerous as “the media” makes it out to be. (By the way, the media only spreads the message sent from national and state leaders and medical experts. Quit blaming the media for the so-called hysteria.)
“It’s no more dangerous than the flu,” they say.
I think in a nutshell, people don’t want to be told what to do. Americans fought seat belt and motor cycle helmet laws vehemently in the past.
They think it’s their right to decide on a mask and their decision is to let the chips fall where they may.
Fatigue is also a factor Hutchinson referred to when he opened the state to Phase 2. He admitted Arkansans were tired of staying home and ready to open the economy even though COVID cases were rising at the time and continue to go through the roof with nearly 900 cases.
I know some of you will explain that away with increased testing. So be it.
Some of you don’t want to hear the directives and don’t buy into what you call hype.
Threatening the loss of football certainly isn’t going to deter you, either.
I’m convinced, though, until we ALL buy in, this virus will run rampant, and we won’t be doing anything this fall including going to school or watching football games on Friday night or Saturdays.