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Robertson County Connection sports editor Russell Vannozzi

“We must learn to live with this virus.”

That phrase has become almost as overused as “these uncertain times” and “this too shall pass” over the last four months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Enough with those clichés. They aren’t working. Robertson County is nearing 1,000 cases, nearly half of which have come over the last month, while Tennessee has surpassed 65,000 cases and is averaging more than 50 new hospitalizations each day.

Here’s a better rallying cry for our country to try: We must learn to be OK with inconvenience.

It frustrates me to scroll through social media and see people acting like the pandemic doesn’t apply to them. Pool parties, large family get-togethers, crowded beaches, AAU basketball tournaments with dozens of teams and hundreds of fans – basically all of things public health experts have instructed us to not do.

We Americans hate to be inconvenienced. Just look around at all the fast-food restaurants, 24-hour gyms, drive-thru ATMs and your local “Karen” who still refuses to wear a face covering in the grocery store despite the county mandate.

God forbid that we miss out on our beloved summer activities, right? 

Wrong.

Dealing with minor inconveniences today (wearing a mask in crowded areas, staying home when possible, washing your hands often, cleaning commonly touched surfaces, etc.) is the only way we have a shot at avoiding long-term disruption.

Sure, it stinks to lose out on the summer months, but wouldn’t it be nice to see your parents or grandparents for Thanksgiving dinner? How about a Christmas Eve church service that you could attend in person? Maybe even a New Year’s Day college football bowl game?

All fun events and holidays are on the chopping block until we can get a handle on this virus or until a vaccine comes along. Nobody knows when either will happen.  

So why not take matters into our own hands?

Robertson County is full of resilient men, women and children. I’ve written stories about plenty of them. Entrepreneurs, farmers, linemen, teachers, business leaders – the list goes on and on. The aforementioned people have found creative ways to survive, to adapt and to continue to provide for their families as the pandemic has upended industries of all shapes and sizes.

These tough folks shouldn’t mind inconvenience. They don’t whine when they aren’t instantly gratified. They face their problems head on and seek solutions until life gets better.

Why should our reaction to the pandemic be any different? Why are we fighting against doing the things that will help us return to normal life sooner? It just doesn’t make any sense.

If that’s not enough to get you thinking, here’s a real kick in the pants: we’re on the verge of losing football season at all levels. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey told Marty & McGee on ESPN Radio last Saturday that his concern for football season is “high to very high.”

"We are running out of time to correct and get things right,” Sankey said.

As a sports editor who loves covering high school football, I’m having trouble imagining a fall without it. It’s so hard to fathom that we could go a year without seeing East Robertson, Greenbrier, Jo Byrns, Springfield, White House and White House Heritage on the gridiron.

That’s the situation we are in, and to a certain extent, we did this to ourselves because we refused to be inconvenienced for more than a few weeks this spring.

However, it’s not too late to change course. There’s still time to shed our disdain for inconvenience and adjust our attitudes toward the advice handed down by the medical experts. I refuse to believe that 2020 is already a lost cause.

Dealing with inconveniences now could help us shorten the lifespan of the pandemic and avoid another year of disappointment. And, if we’re lucky, we might be able to enjoy some semblance of a football season this school year.

“If all of us would put on a face covering now for the next 4-6 weeks, we could drive this (coronavirus) to the ground in the country,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told reporters on Monday.

So please wear a mask in public. Wash your hands. Keep your distance from others. Don’t plan unnecessary gatherings.

Those aren’t words I ever thought I’d have to type when I became a sports journalist. It’s annoying and frustrating that we can’t have normal life right now. I’d like to be writing football previews instead of this column.

But the sooner we learn to deal with the inconveniences brought by COVID-19, the better off we will be.

Russell Vannozzi is the sports editor for the Robertson County Connection. Reach him via email (rvannozzi@mainstreetmediatn.com) or on Twitter (@RussellV_74).

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