Tennessee State Representative Jason Zachary is trying to bring Volunteer nation down while the rest of the conference seems to be heading in the right direction.
LSU announced on Tuesday that it will require all Tiger Stadium guests 12 years of age and older to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours before entry. The policy mirrors that of their Louisiana neighbors to the south, the Saints, who announced a similar stance last week.
It’s a pretty smart move, considering the rise in Delta variant cases and other COVID strains during the summer months. However, Rep. Zachary, who represents the 14th District (Knoxville area), just had to speak negatively about the vaccine push, which could further deter his constituents from getting the much-needed shots.
Zachary crowed about how Tennessee banned “vaccine passports” and that fans wouldn’t have to go through the trouble of showing “your papers” to get into Neyland Stadium to watch a football game this season.
First of all, if Zachary is referring to the freedom papers that free Black people were forced to walk around with during slavery that prevented them from being enslaved by cruel plantation owners, then this is a horribly insensitive statement to make. Trying to make an equivalence between being persuaded to get a vaccine and being forced to prove that you deserve freedom as a Black person, especially in the South, is mind-boggling. And even for those not familiar with freedom papers, the other possibility — and it’s just as bad (!) — is that he is making reference to the old trope of “papers, please,” bringing to mind Nazi stormtroopers.
Either way: not great, my man.
Secondly, the opposition to vaccine mandates or having to show proof of a negative COVID test is asinine. At this point, not taking all the possible steps to ensure that everyone is safe is simply hustling backward. LSU is doing exactly what they need to do. Why would they want to play host to a super spreader event and possibly infect their campus?
Many SEC programs are on their way to becoming 100% vaccinated. Ole Miss’ announced earlier this month that their players and staff were 100% vaccinated. And in July, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said that six teams in the conference were more than 80% vaccinated.
Maybe the programs’ willingness to get vaccinated along with the restrictions from stadiums will help push fans to get protected. Anything helps.
This new stadium mandate is something that all schools in the SEC should implement. LSU should be a leader for the rest of their counterparts, and they shouldn’t be receiving snarky, insensitive backlash from political hacks.
Safety should be the focus here, but it’s clearly not on the mind of Rep. Zachary — and he needs to get it together along with the rest of the “leaders” who think like him.