The Minnesota fishing opener seemed to go well, with some social distancing challenges overcome as plenty of people were on the water, trying to locate elusive walleye.

The golf season has been underway for almost a month now, with restrictions, as golfers have taken advantage of outside time as they chase the ball, wherever it may sail. Those who run and bike seem to be doing OK, staying far enough apart from their partners or other people.

Minnesotans have been given a chance to pursue these activities and have done so responsibly.

That’s what made Wednesday’s announcement from Gov. Tim Walz a bit disappointing. We have accepted the stay-at-home measures taken so far, but now, it’s time to loosen the grip on the rest of society, trusting that we will do things the right, and safe, way.

The governor’s reluctance to be a bit more aggressive seems to be eroding the confidence the citizens had in his decisions just a month ago.

Recreational activities aren’t as important as economic opportunities, but they are both important as we try to regain our full freedoms. It’s going to be a long time, maybe never, before there’s a 0% chance that we won’t contract or spread this dangerous virus through contact in sports or mingling as spectators.

But decisions are now being made more out of fear than reason. It’s been two months since this pandemic started, and Minnesotans have been good citizens. It’s now time to reward the people, allowing them to make decisions regarding their health and safety. “Flatten the curve” can’t continue until we “find the cure.”

Summer baseball and softball should be allowed to have some season, with restrictions. These are probably the easiest team sports to regulate because there’s limited contact, games are played outdoors and fans can spread out. Soccer is similar, even with the athletes brought into closer proximity.

Summer basketball and volleyball are a bit tougher because those sports are played inside, though it’s easy to limit the number of non-participants you allow to watch the activities.

With football, at some point we’re going to need to take a chance and closely monitor the results.

In the big picture, sports aren’t as important as some would suggest, but there’s also a sense of camaraderie and togetherness that occurs in team activities. There’s also a freedom that will occur after spending two months in your house, only going out when necessary.

Minnesotans have acted appropriately during this pandemic, and it’s time to trust them again. We need society to start trending toward “normal” again, and a large part of that process will involve summer sports for the kids.

The governor has proclaimed that his stay-at-home edicts have put the state in position to handle future waves of this virus so it’s time to let people pursue their recreational and athletic endeavors. If people don’t feel safe hosting or competing in activities, they won’t. As a parent or athlete, it’s your responsibility to stay away when sick and take proper hygiene procedures during training and competition.

Any death that could be avoided is tragic, but this does not appear to be a young person’s disease. It seems logical that young athletes could participate in these athletic opportunities, using some simple guidelines, without raising the risk of spreading the disease to more vulnerable people.

The longer it takes to restart these activities, the more likely that folks will rebel, which is going to help no one.

Chad Courrier is a Free Press staff writer. To contact him, call 507-344-6353, email at ccourrier@mankatofreepress.com or follow his Twitter feed @ChadCourrier.

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