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658 days later, fans are finally back

658 days— the length from the day West Virginia hosted Oklahoma State in its home finale in 2019, until its home opener this Saturday against Long Island.

Thinking about all that has gone on in those 658 days feels like an eternity for some. The world has seen a global pandemic completely change the way we did things. We masked up, we sheltered in our homes, kids attended school virtually, seeing loved ones turned into talking to them on the phone, and yes one thing so many people missed— Saturday’s in Morgantown.

Last season, we had a glimpse of normalcy amidst a global pandemic. West Virginia welcomed fans in a limited capacity, 25% that is. But with that came rules such as no tailgating, spread out seating, and it all felt weird.

This Saturday, sports will once again be the escape that it has always been for so many, for so long.

20 years ago this Saturday was one of America’s darkest days. Sept. 11, 2001, this country paused together. People wondered if they would ever go back to normal, and how long it would take. Sure enough, in the coming days, the New York sports franchises were on the global stage, uniting people from all walks of life, showing the true power of sports.

20 years later, sports will again have the same opportunity to be powerful. This pandemic has altered so many lives, and taken advantage of the most vulnerable. This Saturday will be a breath of fresh air, an escape back to reality as we knew it before March 13, 2019.

Although we are still seeing a rise in COVID-19 case numbers, vaccination rates are slowly climbing, and as they climb, so do we. Mountaineer fans have heard the phrase ‘Trust The Climb’ from this football program for the last three years, and that is exactly what they are doing.

Trusting the science works, trusting the vaccination works, but trusting themselves for making tough decisions over the past 658 days, that has kept them away from so much. Many fans have not seen any Mountaineer sporting events since 2019 or early in 2020— until this Saturday.

So whether this Saturday you find yourself tailgating, screaming for the Mountaineers, or singing country roads, take a look back at how far we have come, and how far we still have to go.

Photo from Dale Sparks, WVU

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