COLUMN: A centrist view

Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     Right down the middle.

     It’s a phrase a coach might say to a young baseball or softball pitcher in an effort to encourage that player to throw strikes.

     It also accurately describes my attitudes toward the COVID-19 pandemic. A more critical person might call my views, at best, inconsistent. Or at worst, hypocritical.

     Probably all true.

     If you watched Gov. Kim Reynolds’ press conferences throughout this unnerving time, it’s likely that, like me, you couldn’t take your eyes off the Facebook comments that scrolled by as Reynolds was speaking.

     It was amazing to me how many were at one extreme or the other, either “Shelter in place!” or “Open everything up!”

     That both sides seemed to hate everything Gov. Reynolds was saying, to my mind, might mean she was doing things as close to perfectly as possible.

     Right down the middle.

     I’ve had moments of leaning to one extreme or the other. On one hand, I’ve worn a mask to the grocery store and to church, I’ve tried to keep my distance from people when out and about, and I turned down opportunities to play tennis with the tennis guys when their season first opened up. We kept our boys under wraps, at one point not allowing the older one to see his girlfriend for a time.

     On the other hand, since restrictions were eased by Gov. Reynolds, I have visited the Iowa Greyhound Park in Dubuque a certain number of times that I’d rather not reveal. I started playing tennis again. We’ve had people over, and gone to other people’s gatherings. We’ve allowed our boys to see people again, to play basketball and tennis and go to bonfires. I even traveled to West Liberty Saturday to see my first live harness races since the Great Jones County Fair was last able to conduct them, in 2015.

     Have I been too careful? Not careful enough? I’ve probably been both, at different times. But does anyone really know? Probably not.

     Emotionally, I have felt, in the early stages, the anxiety of not knowing the future, of what was going to happen to all of us, and especially to those I love. Like all of us, I feel the sadness and sympathize with the pain for those who have lost loved ones to this virus.

     If I’m being honest, though, I have also discovered some unexpected benefits. Like having meals as a family, which we have probably done more times in the past three months than in the previous three years combined. Or being swept into watching ESPN’s “The Last Dance” over a five-week period, particularly toward the beginning, when South Korean baseball at 4:30 in the morning was the only live sport available.

     The future remains almost as uncertain as it was in the beginning. Some sports have restarted across the country, but at the high school level, very much of what is going to happen in the fall will depend on what happens right here, in Iowa, the only state that conducts high school sports in the summer months.

     In the larger picture, fall sports will also depend on whether, or when, any professional sports are able to restart their seasons, and if so, how those go.

     If they go well, things might be able to return to as close to normal as possible. If not, spikes across the country might push us right back into shutdown mode.

     For now, it’s wait-and-see. And my attitude will probably stay where it has been all along: right down the middle.



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