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[Editor's note: On Thursday afternoon, the Iowa High School Athletic Association announced it would be limiting attendance for Friday's finals. Read the details here.The initial column remains below in full.]
With conference basketball tournaments left and right shutting with record speed. With the NBA shutting down for a while. With hockey thinking about it. With the NCAA saying March Madness will continue without fans (and likely canceling too, just wait) ...
Spectators from throughout Iowa are still being allowed inside Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines to watch the Iowa boys' basketball state tournament.
Shame on you, Iowa High School Athletic Association.
I understand that it would break hearts to start limiting fans or canceling the rest of the tournament. But doing the right thing is not the easy thing. And it's clear by now what the right thing to do is.
More: The latest on coronavirus in Iowa
Randy Peterson(Photo: Special to the Register)
It's not just pro and college teams that are putting a large halt to their sports. Our state neighbors, Nebraska and Illinois, have put in place massive limitations to their high school tournaments.
Why are they doing this? It's not hysteria. It's so people don't get sick from the coronavirus that is terrorizing the world and has the potential to harm and kill many.
If you cant cancel altogether, then pull the plug on the fans. Its for the safety of the players youre supposed to protect. Its for the fans. Its for our restaurants and watering holes in downtown Des Moines popular between-session hangouts for fans in town for this annual event.
Youre supposed to be example-setters, and youve done a wonderful job of it through the years. I know. My first gig at The Des Moines Register back in the 1970s was covering high school sports. I know how much you care. Ive seen how well you protect the high school athletes as well you should.
Honor that history.
Also read:What you need to know about COVID-19 in Iowa
Ive seen it all in that respect, so its troubling that youre still allowing fans to watch the state tournament on Thursday and Friday, while the rest of the world tries to contain this damnable virus.
Illinois announced Thursday morning that its high school tournament would limit fans during the remainder of its event.No more than 60 spectators per school will be allowed inside the arena. Nebraska has limited fans, too.
But in Iowa?
Heads in sand.
Its wonderful that the Iowa association is staying in contact with the Department of Public Health. I cant believe that department, however, would be against limiting fans inside The Well.
More: What is closed, canceled or postponed in Iowa because of the coronavirus
The top healthcare experts in the country, for weeks, have been screaming for society to start shutting down large gatherings such as the state tournament. The reason is so we protect the most vulnerable among us.
Putting a stop to fans at gamesis not a cowardly act. It's a compassionate one.
The scenes that unfolded Wednesday night in Sports the NBA shutting down after player (and now) tested positive for coronavirus and Iowa's own Fred Hoiberg falling ill (thankfully it was just the flu) on the Nebraska bench was a wake-up call for the entire sports world.
Sports are important.
But there are more important things going on right now.
Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been writingfor the Des Moines Register for parts of sixdecades. Reach him email@example.com, 515-284-8132, and on Twitter at@RandyPete.
Read the rest here:
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