SPORTS

Fans back in, a new leader

By ALEX SPONSELLER
Posted 11/12/20

Starting on Monday of this week, fans were allowed back in attendance to most Rhode Island Interscholastic League events. Two weeks back, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced a two-week ban of spectators while the local COVID-19 numbers continue to rise,

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SPORTS

Fans back in, a new leader

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Starting on Monday of this week, fans were allowed back in attendance to most Rhode Island Interscholastic League events. Two weeks back, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced a two-week ban of spectators while the local COVID-19 numbers continue to rise, however, she lifted the ban midway through its original timeline.

The reason? Well, there was not much of one given. If I had to guess, I would say it was the pressure put on the governor and her team from the sports community.

This was the last week for most regular seasons while cross country and tennis wrap up this weekend. Fans won’t be allowed to the cross country states this weekend, but each athlete may have up to two visitors attend for other sports.

On the one hand, I am very happy to see this ruling and am excited that most athletes will have their family present.

For some athletes, fall is the only season that they compete. For those seniors especially, to not have family be able to watch their final high school competitions would be heartbreaking. There were many senior night festivities celebrated throughout the last week without parents in attendance. Of course, teams and parents made it up to each other and made the most of it however they could, but to not have the standard events was a bummer.

Now, most kids will be able to celebrate the last few weeks of the fall with their families which is great to see. I am truly happy for them.

On the other hand, I do think that the point made should be heeded.

The governor’s original plan to ban spectators, in my eyes, was not simply a scare tactic or a knee-jerk response to the rising numbers. I feel that each week she and her team have been monitoring the numbers and how they relate to the sports world. I do believe that banning spectators has been, still is, and will be on the table for the foreseeable future.

This reversal in my opinion could very well end up being temporary. As much as I would like to just stick to the fall and focus on what is at hand, we have to be prepared for the unfortunate reality that fans may not be allowed come winter.

My overall point to this is that, like always, like I have been annoyingly hammering home over the past seven months, it is up to us to keep the numbers down and to manage this issue.

Restrictions, health protocols, safety guidance is all well and good but it is ultimately up to our choices and behavior to keep the numbers down and the chances of a successful end of fall and winter up. From what I saw, parents and spectators did a good job of obeying policies, some were pushier than others, but overall it was a solid response and effort to play by the rules. However, we need to be just as good, if not better, now that the restrictions have been loosened up some.

Don’t get me wrong, either. I am not trying to come off as if I am against having fans back or that I think it is a bad idea. For outdoor sports especially, I am very excited to get fans back in the fold. It’s just a totally different atmosphere at these events, one that is just much brighter and more exciting. I just want to preach caution and appreciation for what we have … things can change at any moment, literally, when it comes to this virus. Let’s stay diligent and make it through the last few weeks here while getting ready for winter.

One more quick-hitter point here, but I must say, what is the deal with high school tennis courts?

I have noticed all season long that it is really tough to find a good tennis court nowadays. Sure, some school districts have more to work with than others, but it seems like for our inner-city schools that the conditions are rougher than ever.

Is it a huge deal? No, at least it does not appear to be. It’s not like these courts are unplayable. But man, this fall I have noticed that so many courts could use big upgrades.

Between cracked surfaces, sagging nets, uneven courts, faded lines. It seems like more often than not these courts are worn and tired.

Tennis court renovations are pricey so this is not me pointing a finger at anyone, it’s just an observation that I hope gets noticed.

Lastly, I have mentioned this a few times in the past, but I am not huge on politics.

I am not totally ignorant of the political landscape of the country. In a year like 2020, it’s impossible to be.

But overall, I tend to keep to myself when it comes to my political beliefs. I have them, as we all do, but I am not all that vocal about what they are. Ultimately, everyone has the right to feel what they feel … and I try my best to respect that.

Saturday morning we found out that Joe Biden won the election. There will be recounts, push back, and the fact that we have mail in ballots and whatnot will make the next few weeks even messier.

Either way, it appears that Biden will be the next president of the United States. This is not a sports take, it’s not a political one, either. I just want to say, regardless of how you voted, let’s remember that life goes on and we are still all in this together.

Whether it be getting through the pandemic, seeing progress in social and human issues be made, what have you, let’s not assess things based on who is in the oval office. Let’s remember that all progress and change starts with us. It will be an interesting change of pace in the White House … Let's take it one day at a time and be our best selves for the country.

sports, fans, leader

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