‘Do as we say, not as we do’

If an alien dropped in to watch sporting events in America this winter, he, she, it, they or whoever would likely be confused. The alien would ask, “What’s with all the masks being worn by spectators at some games, but not at others?”

Truth be told, this columnist can appreciate why the aliens would be confused. I’ve seen some televised college basketball games in California where most of the people came disguised as empty seats. I suspect fans were not allowed to attend because of the risk of getting COVID-19.

Other televised games around the country featured large crowds, with the majority of fans wearing masks. The people were packed in like sardines, but one would hope the mask would reduce their chances of catching or spreading COVID-19.

Still other games featured large crowds with the majority of fans not wearing masks. These people either didn’t believe the science or felt the risk of getting COVID-19 wasn’t that great since they were either vaccinated or otherwise healthy.

And then there was the Super Bowl, with more than 75,000 people attending. According to one news website, everyone who attended the spectacle at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, was given a KN95 mask, as Los Angeles County still required masking at so-called “mega-events.” The KN95 mask was good news for those who follow the science in terms of wearing the most effective masks.

But if you watched the game, you may have noticed that many spectators weren’t wearing facial coverings, including celebrities. Why didn’t they comply with the requirement to wear a mask?

And what can you say about the politicians, celebrities, and professional athletes who were seen without a face covering? Let’s not kid ourselves. They attend these events to be seen. What’s the point in going if no one can tell who is behind the mask?

I came across the following interesting quote: “The difference between sports and politics: in sports, people talk less and do more, while in politics, people talk more and do less.”

What should politicians do when the public either doesn’t believe the science or is simply ready to live life again without wearing a mask?

According to an article in the Washington Post, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is acutely aware that his state’s residents are increasingly desperate for their old lives, worried about their children’s schooling and exasperated by masks and other restrictions.

Murphy, a Democrat, said, “There’s learning loss in our kids, mental health, and stress among kids and adults. Folks are yearning for some sense of normalcy — and count me, by the way, among them.”

When Murphy announced that he was lifting New Jersey’s school mask mandate, he was one of a slew of governors in his party to do so, as polls suggest voters are weary of restrictions.

Translation? “If we (politicians) don’t listen to the public, we may take a beating in the November mid-term elections.”

Or as Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) said, “A leader without followers is not very effective leadership, so somehow you have to strike the balance there to keep people following you.”

According to the Polling Institute at Monmouth University, support for mask policies has eroded, although it remains quite high. The poll showed that 52 percent of Americans supported face-mask and distancing guidelines in their state, down from a peak of 63 percent last September during the Delta surge.

Watching a televised KU game in Lawrence in February, I saw that most fans faithfully wore masks, although a few wore them like chin masks. Meanwhile, not as many fans at Wichita State seemed to be wearing masks in Koch Arena, although the personnel at the scorer’s table were dutifully masked.

Meanwhile, the mixed messaging continues from some politicians, professional athletes, and celebrities who support wearing masks, but are often seen in public without masks.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue of wearing masks, there’s a word to describe those who ask us to “do as we say, not as we do.” It’s called hypocrisy.

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