Stephen Tsai: Government should trust University of Hawaii and let fans return

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Sep. 14—There's a reason I don't do that trust-building exercise where someone faithfully falls backward into another person's arms.

I don't trust anyone to catch me.

I figure I would go splat !, like the old David Letterman bit of dropping objects off a five-story building.

When my wife drives me to the airport, as I go toward the trunk to get my luggage, she will purposely move the car forward so I'll have to jog after it. She thinks that's hysterical. I think I'm not letting her catch me falling backward.

Let's face it, we all have trust issues. When we're behind someone in the express checkout line at Foodland, we're mentally debating whether Twix should count as one or two items toward the 10-item limit. Distrustful patients are the reason why doctors display their diplomas in their offices. It is why a restaurant will make you sign in as part of the COVID-19 protocol and then ask for your phone number for a possible rewards-program discount. You mean the same number I just wrote when I signed in ?

The lack of trust is why the University of Hawaii might play another home game without spectators. UH is restricted as part of government officials' mandate against large gatherings.

For several weeks, UH officials have offered reasonable scenarios to allow fans. Their plan was to admit only vaccinated fans who also pass health standards, require masks to be worn at all times, reduce the number of tickets issued, suspend concession sales, not allow tailgating, and enforce 6-foot-distancing, even in restrooms. Hand sanitizers are available throughout the Clarence T.C. Ching Athletic Complex. LumiSight has been activated to vet spectators.

But government leaders continue to rebuff any plan, showing a lack of trust either in UH to manage the situation or, worse, a lack of faith in the safety measures that they already advocate. We know vaccines are effective in minimizing the spread and severity of the coronavirus. We know masks are literally an added layer of protection. Government leaders know that because that is what they tell us.

And we know the number of cases and hospital stays cannot be traced to UH-hosted sporting events because the general public has been kept from attending games for 18 months.

Large gatherings, particularly at unregulated parties, can fuel spreading. But UH is proposing an environment-controlled gathering in which all the safety measures the government recommends will be implemented. What's more, ticket holders who feel a vaccinated-only event is not safe enough, do not have to attend. But people who trust in the vaccine and mask-wearing at an outdoor setting should be allowed the option.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with skepticism. If a person offers to build an affordable rail system in a timely manner, perhaps some caution would be advised. But there needs to be a little trust. A state senate committee actually grilled UH officials on how they were able to retrofit the Ching Complex so quickly.

As 129 Division I-A football teams play in front of fans, maybe local government officials need to trust that UH can do the right things to safely allow spectator-attended sporting events.

Trust begins with not worrying about downfalls.

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