Just before Nan and I reached the entrance to the Paycom Center, we were asked for proof of our vaccinations. We had already read the protocols calling for evidence or a negative test for COVID-19 within 72 hours of the event.
We were initially surprised to still have tickets for “An Evening with Michael Bublé” after it had been postponed several times since April 2020. We thought about not going but decided it would be fun. Since we were vaccinated, I had copies of our vaccination cards in my wallet.
After we showed the copies without having to show any ID, an officer said, “Maybe it would be better to have a picture of your cards.”
“Yes, I have that too, sir,” I said, pointing to a picture of the iPhone.
That was it. It didn’t take two minutes before we quickly went through security.
That’s why I’m puzzled as I grumble against the Oklahoma City Thunder’s decision to do the same for their first 12 games of the preseason and regular season. The Thunder also strongly recommends that fans wear masks during games.
The reasons: To protect the health and safety of his community, especially given the rapid spread of the delta variant.
The growls included State Representative Sean Roberts, who said the team’s leadership “was pushing a fear agenda,” according to KOCO.com. In Log recordingRepublican Hominy called the policy “draconian” and “selfish” because he said it could create a shortage of COVID-19 tests. While also threatening to withdraw tax benefits from the Thunder, he added that the University of Oklahoma did not require proof of vaccination for the OU-Nebraska game. KOCO.com reported that university officials strongly encourage masks and recommend vaccinations for anyone attending events on OU property.
By the way, Nan and I also attended the OU-Nebraska game. When we were under the stadium, we wore masks and took them off when we were outside.
I found the OU-Nebraska game to be significantly different from being inside the Paycom Center for the Bublé concert – and, in the future, for the Thunder games. And a policy of giving fans the choice of showing proof of vaccination or a negative test doesn’t strike me as draconian or selfish. It is simply good community health policy in the midst of a pandemic.
Some fans are also complaining that some NBA players, including the Thunder, will not be vaccinated, so why should they be vaccinated. However, according to a recent ESPN story, the NBA publishes strict protocols for players who are not vaccinated, including separate lockers; food courts, flight and horseback riding areas; testing on match days and training days if they show symptoms; and mandatory quarantine in the event of exposure. The Athletic also recently reported that the NBA requires all team or arena staff to be vaccinated for all in-person interactions during the 2021-22 season.
Other teams or arenas for teams such as the Miami Heat, Brooklyn Nets, Utah Jazz and Boston Celtics will also need masks and / or proof of vaccination or negative COVID tests, according to NBA. com. Other teams will likely follow.
And, since we’re referring to the National Basketball Association, a recent Pew Research survey of 10,348 American adults found that 56% “require adults to show proof of COVID vaccination” for those who are going to a sporting event or concert.
At the recent concert, which was entertaining and worth the short time to go through protocol, Bublé announced that 25% of those who originally purchased tickets did not attend the concert. Some were probably protesting against the protocol.
Thunder fans will have to make the same choice if they want to stay in this community.
Joe Hight is a director and fellow of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, an editor who led a Pulitzer Prize-winning project, the chair of journalism ethics at the University of Central Oklahoma, president / owner of The best of books, author of “Unnecessary Sorrow” and author / senior editor of “Our Greatest Journalists”.