By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – I’ll be honest.
I hate wearing a mask.
It rubs against the back of my ears and causes soreness after a while.
It makes my glasses foggy.
It gets moist and gross if you wear it long enough.
It makes it’s hard to identify people.
And it hardly is compatible to exercising.
I could think of a few more examples, but you get the point.
I hate wearing a mask.
But wearing a mask is also a minuscule price to pay in defense against the highly contagious Coronavirus.
I want few things more than to have the high school and college football seasons to start on time later this summer, both for personal and business reasons.
The thought of not having football for a year in a college town is frightening, and could be life-changing for those who rely on sports to put supper on the table.
And while wearing a mask won’t guarantee that we will have football this fall, it should lessen the odds of not having football.
So just do it, wear a mask.
Sadly, the mask debate has turned political when it shouldn’t be that way at all.
One side says you’re weak and afraid, and trampling civil liberties by telling others to wear a mask, while the other side says you value money over life if you don’t wear a mask.
Both arguments are an exaggeration, and not fair to either side, but they also show just how divided we are as a nation.
Football, however, is one thing that brings us all together, from youth leagues to high school to college to the NFL, football unites us, excites us and helps to fulfill us.
But the game we love is at risk of not happening this fall at the high school and college levels because the virus still is spreading and causing misery and death nearly six months after it first arrived here.
I remember thinking and hoping when we were locked down in March and April that the situation would improve by the summer.
But here we are nearly half way through July and the virus still is spreading in more than 30 states.
The high school baseball and softball seasons were considered a testing ground in the new normal, and the results have been mixed.
Something is better than nothing, but so many teams have had their season interrupted or destroyed by the virus.
My alma mater, for example, the top-ranked West Des Moines Dowling baseball team, had its season cancelled due to somebody having tested for the virus.
One side calls it an overreaction, while the other side says it’s being cautious and pro-active.
I just feel for the players, especially the seniors, whose dreams were crushed.
One day you’re playing baseball, and then it’s over with a phone call saying somebody has tested positive.
Our medical experts are certainly not above making miscalculations, but they’re called experts for a reason. Actually for lots of reasons.
And if they say that wearing a mask and social distancing helps to lower the chances of being infected, then who am I to question them?
I barely passed Algebra.
You could argue that some states such as Texas and Florida re-opened too soon and are now paying the price as the virus spreads in both states.
But if more people had just practiced social distancing, maybe the hospitals wouldn’t be filling up with sick patients.
Because at some point, we have to re-open and re-launch our economy and get our children back in school.
And if doing something as simple, and as easy, as wearing a mask helps to achieve that goal, then please, just do it.
Put the politics aside and remind yourself about game day at Kinnick Stadium before it’s too late, if it isn’t too late already.
The nonconference games already have been eliminated in the Big Ten and the Pac-12 conferences, and more conferences are likely to do the same.
I remember being annoyed about having to wear a seat belt, but I eventually got over it. And now it’s just part of life.
This virus, as bad as it is, won’t be this bad forever.
Hopefully, sooner than later, they’ll develop a vaccine and we’ll learn to live with it, much like we do the flu.
Hopefully, a year from now, we won’t have to wear a mask and stand six feet apart and wash our hands until they’re dry and bleeding.
Life will never be exactly how it was before the virus surfaced, but it can and will be close to normal again.
How long that will take depends largely on us.
So please, just wear a mask when you’re close to people, especially inside.
The game you love depends on it