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Wear a mask, root for your kid and try not to be a nuisance

Democracy is the worst form of government, Churchill once suggested, except for all the others. No real argument from this corner, except for how the perils of COVID-19 have unearthed the flaming need for an occasional benevolent dictatorship.

Example: The benevolent dictator in question would say something like, "Tally ho, old chap. Of course, you are entitled to your opinion, love. But you'd be doing us quite a favor if you got a cramp in your tongue."

This would be particularly useful now that the local masses have helped turn a mostly sunny occasion into cloudy with a chance of showers. What should have been a joyous day Saturday (the opening of spring high school sports after a 2020 COVID hiatus) went negative in the face of complaints to the Eastern Connecticut Conference about the dearth of mask-wearing among participants and fans.

League officials took to social media over the weekend to remind patrons, coaches and kids that masks are required for all spectators and participants of spring sports, except the players on the field. No exceptions.

"Our hope is that spectators understand the importance of following our guidelines," said Ledyard athletic director/assistant principal Jim Buonocore, who has become a de facto league spokesman. "Last week, I spoke to fans from NFA, Montville and New London and had to remind them to mask up or they will need to leave. They are adults. Some had to go back to cars to get a mask. Like why? This isn't new."

What also isn't new is the incessant bellyaching about mask-wearing in public. Or the outright refusal. Once again: Your opinion is irrelevant. Want to watch your kid play? Wear the mask. That's the rule. Period. You may not like the rule. That is your right. But the governing body in question (in this case the ECC) gets to make the rules. You certainly needn't be compliant. But you'll be noncompliant somewhere else.

If this week is as bad as Saturday, ECC schools and officials reserve to right to remove anybody from school property. Remember: It's a privilege to be there, not a birthright.

"If the situation does not improve, we absolutely would revisit the no spectator policy," Buonocore said. "Our priority is to provide a safe and competitive experience. We do not intend to jeopardize the opportunity to compete for the athletes, nor be in violation of public health policy. I certainly hope we don't have to come to that decision. But we will do what's necessary. It's not very difficult. Wear a mask. If you can't wear one, please don't attend."

Here is a guarantee: Somebody is reading this and had decided that nobody — but nobody — gets to tell him/her what to do. They have their rights, you know. This is America. Land of the free. Home of the brave. Bunch of snowflakes, anyway. (Did I miss anything?)

And so should you choose to be publicly defiant, here's what will happen:

"I am at all events, and I have hired event staff for all spring contests," Buonocore said. "Most schools are doing the same. So it's ultimately myself (the athletic directors) that will request an individual leave the facility if they are not complying. If there was outright refusal, then police would be summoned to the scene to remove the individual."

Kind of sad we've reached this point. But then, no sadder than the legions who received the epidemiological degree on Facebook and can't resist sharing.

Once again: It's a mask, not a catheter. Nobody's asking you to walk barefoot across Arizona. Just wear a mask, root for your kid and try not to be a nuisance.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro


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