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SKYLAR ROLSTAD

For all the words mayors and governors spoke a few months ago about the “common sense” of their constituents amid the coronavirus pandemic, I’m not seeing much of it this year.

When the pandemic, of which we are still smack in the middle, started, the first step to take was the shutdown of mass gatherings.

Spring sports were canceled, which was unfortunate. But imagine how much more severe the virus could have been had no one taken measures to slow its spread?

So why is that happening now?

I covered two football games this weekend in Greenwood and Saluda. Both games were massive gatherings of people where many people flagrantly disregarded a requirement at the venue to socially distance and wear face coverings at all times.

It says a lot that police officers working the Greenwood High football game this past Friday, including the one standing 2 feet away from each person entering the stadium to wave the metal-detector wand, weren’t wearing masks at all.

It says a lot that Greenwood County School District 50 released guidelines that specifically state “No student section” and have allowed a student section to form at every home game this season. All other school districts have similar rules that have gone ignored this football season.

District guidelines at all schools, in accordance with the South Carolina High School League, state that face coverings “must be worn at all times,” but these directions are hardly followed.

It says a lot about the collective effort, or lack thereof, to stop the spread of the virus in Greenwood and statewide that so many people can’t follow simple rules during what may be the nation’s biggest crisis since 9/11.

No matter what university study, politician’s quote or statistic you can pull from where the sun doesn’t shine, the data shows masks work. The Centers for Disease Control recommends wearing any type of face mask for anyone over the age of two and cites 19 studies to support it. If the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention isn’t a good enough source for you, maybe you ought to watch the football game from home.

And the pandemic is still going strong. The seven-day average for new cases has steadily risen from 657 on Oct. 2 to 812.57 on Oct. 25. The state Department of Health and Environmental Control reported Sunday that hospital bed occupancy is at 75 percent or higher in 19 counties, which includes Greenwood and Abbeville counties.

If you still don’t believe wearing a mask or social distancing is important, rules are still rules, right? At least follow a school district’s guidelines when you enter their stadium. At least care enough about the school administrators who work hard to implement rules that are understandably difficult to enforce.

The 2020 football season should be one in which we show that sports can go on during a pandemic because of proper adherence to common-sense measures like masks and social distancing, not because of flagrant disregard for anything other than your own freedom and entertainment.

Contact sports writer Skylar Rolstad at 864-223-1813 or follow him on Twitter @SkyRolSports.