Life, liberty ... and the fundamental right to birdie 17 at Shenny
Full disclosure: My musings on life in the past few weeks haven't always been accurate. Tuesday's diatribe became Wednesday's mea culpa. I suspect many of us have experienced disturbing confrontations with humility, given the perpetually changing circumstances the coronavirus thrusts upon us.
Still, my unenlightened fancies notwithstanding, I'm pretty sure our framers, after the "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness" part, didn't include "and the fundamental right to birdie 17 at Shenny."
So can someone explain why Shennecossett, Norwich Golf Course and Stonington Country Club (for its members) are still open? I mean, how many times do Dr. Fauci, Gov. Cuomo and Surgeon General Jerome Adams have to beg for social distancing before we all — yes, all — adhere to the information?
Some golf groupies believe courses have the right to remain open, citing semantics connected to Gov. Lamont's recent executive order closing all non-essential businesses. Except that the governor's order is irrelevant to the argument. The decision to keep a golf course open thumbs its nose at a greater societal responsibility.
And this virus will continue to run faster than Jesse Owens if we fail to take societal responsibility more seriously. Sure, that antagonizes the YOU CAN'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO crowd. Lest we forget, though, that crazy little thing called humility. Sure beats hubris during a global pandemic.
A month ago, few of us ever heard of social distancing. Now it's at the epicenter of life's changing circumstances. We must adhere to it. Leaving a golf course open, while so many other businesses tethered to recreation have closed, sends the wrong message. It suggests that members of society not allowed to play golf translates into a higher form of suffering than everybody else's. This just in: It's not. We all miss our friends and the things we like to do.
I've never been a fan of slippery slope arguments, mostly because it's illogical to accept a succession of events as inevitable without direct evidence that the course of events would happen. But after watching human behavior in recent weeks — and how there's a direct line connecting human weakness with selfishness — I cannot say with assurance that others in society wouldn't think like this: If it's permissible for golfers to congregate, why can't we get together with our friends, too?
And then there goes the virus like Jesse Owens again.
In the abstract, sure, one can theoretically participate in golf and stay six feet away from the next person. How many of you honestly think golfers — especially if they've partaken of the euphoric nectar — would follow that in any sensible way?
The restrictions some courses have in place are laudable: removal of ball washers and rakes, not allowing use of carts, limiting patrons in the pro shop and extending starting tee time intervals to lessen the likelihood of congregating. They'll prove useful later when life resumes with some sense of normalcy.
But now is not the time.
I get that most golfers are going to read this and hate it. Good. Because let me reiterate: Your brand of suffering isn't worse than mine. Or the person next door. Or the medical personnel at hospitals throughout the country who don't have enough masks right now to keep themselves safe. What, your inability to trot out your new Titleist Hybrid is somehow worse than a nurse whose life is in peril every day?
I got an email Tuesday from a Waterford attorney and presumably avid golfer, who offered this: "Emergency orders issued pursuant to the state's police power, which are in derogation of our rights, are to be narrowly construed. Playing golf has not been prohibited by Gov. Lamont pursuant to his emergency powers."
Of course. We must narrowly construe everything here in a global crisis. Because the constitutional right for you to play golf is more sacrosanct than the Sermon on the Mount. Such an inspiring attitude: ME ME ME. Yup. Your individual rights supersede the greater good. Always and forever.
Except that it's about WE WE WE.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro
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