OPINION: Some stadium re-openings are jumping the gun, but just by a little

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The K-State football student section, adorned with masks, clap along to the Pride of Wildcat Land band in the fall. K-State was one of the few schools in the fall to allow for fans inside their football stadium. (File photo by Dalton Wainscott | Collegian Media Group).

We are not out of the woods just yet. But the Texas Rangers think so.

On Monday, the Rangers — of Major League Baseball — welcomed an official count of 38,238 fans into Globe Life Field for its game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

In the state of Texas, there are currently 243.7 tests per 100,000 people per day, at a 4.3 percent positivity rate. With stats like that, it seems like welcoming 38,000-plus fans is jumping the gun — especially since it topped the number of people that were allowed for both the Super Bowl and Daytona 500.

It made sense for the Super Bowl (24,835) and Daytona 500 (a little over 30,000) to allow that many fans because both of those events could enforce social distancing. Fans were spread out, masks were on and everyone could be happy.

However, social distancing disappeared at Globe Life Field on Monday. Fans were shoulder-to-shoulder, masks were off and even though it seemed like they were having a good time, maybe they won’t be here soon.

https://twitter.com/SamGannon87/status/1379164124232437761

Even Dr. Philip Huang, director of health and human services in neighboring Dallas County, believes it was too early for large gatherings such as the one on Monday.

Now, I understand people are wanting to go back to their normal lives. With 19.2 percent of the U.S. population vaccinated — 63 million — it’s safe to say things will start to go back to normal soon enough, but that doesn’t mean we should right now.

Sports leagues and teams should take action — and some are. The NBA is limiting fans. Other MLB teams, too. The NHL even has restrictions.

With what happened in Arlington, Texas, on Monday, no one should follow what the Rangers did — not until we as a society know we are in the clear.

The Rangers are only doing this for a few games and will dial back attendance in the near future, but the damage could have already been done because all it can take is one person to ruin the fun in the Petri dish-setting it was.

And I expect cases to rise as a result.

When it comes to local sports, Kansas State was spoiled with fans at sporting events, from football to basketball. Even volleyball had attendees. So when it comes to next season, I expect capacity to be higher — but how much higher should it be?

That depends on how many people are vaccinated. It’s an answer that will have to wait — but expect Bill Synder Family stadium to be full again, or nearly full in the fall.

But for now, here’s your daily reminder to wear your mask, follow health and safety protocols and get the vaccine if you can, because in the long run, it will allow for all of us to gather in stadiums once again.

Marshall Sunner is the Collegian’s assistant sports editor and a junior in mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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