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If you don't think this great country of ours is deeply divided on almost every single issue these days, check out the results from Monday's Chattanooga Times Free Press reader poll.

The question was this: Do you miss live sports?

On our website, as of 3:45 Monday afternoon, the "No" votes were on top 45-35 among the 80 total cast.

Yet that same question, when posted on Twitter, had "Yes" in front by 74% to 26% of the 280 votes tallied at that same time.

Because the vote total was so much higher on Twitter, you'd have to believe more folks miss sports than don't. But you could also argue that more sports fans follow Twitter than check out the TFP website.

The point is, opinions apparently differ wildly on this subject as we continue to struggle to get on top of the coronavirus pandemic, though that could also be because it's the dead of summer, where there are no college sports being played, which is what most gets the emotions going in the South.

So how accurate is either poll result?

Joe Scruggs, 69 years young and a high school official here in town for the past 49 years, wrote in an email: "YES, I miss live sports! Over the weekend, I watched the NY Mets and Yankees both Saturday and Sunday — that's how desperate for sports I am! Watched quite a bit of SEC Network replays from 2019! I am a regular watcher of the Braves and will be when the "season" kicks off this Thursday! Hoping that we have football this fall, with or without fans. That being said, I have purchased my season tickets for UT again this year in hopes of attending!"

McCallie School graduate and Stanford University senior King Jemison also wants sports to return, but with an asterisk as it pertains to the Cardinal football program.

"I absolutely miss live sports," he wrote. "I enjoy golf, so I've watched bits and pieces of the tournaments that have happened so far. I'm particularly excited about the return of the NBA to see if my Memphis Grizzlies can reach the playoffs and perhaps steal a game or two."

But regarding the current uncertain state of the upcoming college football season, Jemison took a slightly different approach.

"With my senior year coming up, I'm increasingly sad that college sports will be radically different this year," he penned. "I personally don't think Pac-12 football will happen in the fall — the momentum against fall sports on the West Coast will, I believe, eventually knock out the Pac-12 as well. Whether or not all of major college football joins is another question. I believe that a spring season could be awesome, and with positive news about the vaccine recently, there's a chance a spring season could include fans and nonconference games. Why not hold out and see if we can get something better with the COVID situation somewhat under control?"

That might be as reasoned and forward thinking an observation as anyone has offered since all this began. Why not hold out indeed?

Lifelong University of Tennessee at Chattanooga fan Pam Henry wrote: "Not only did I miss UTC's postseason basketball games and spring sports, I have missed the Braves on TV. Last year, I bet I watched more Braves games than all The Times Free Press' sports writers put together! But, the reruns were of no interest to me.

"I am very concerned about fall sports, including football. If they do play, I have safety concerns — more for players and coaches, than fans. I have concerns for the athletic department remaining financially viable if they don't play, maybe even if they do.

"I really wish that college football coaches had made Public Service Announcements three months ago, urging people to wear masks and follow other guidelines. Maybe the doubters in the South would have listened to Nick Saban, Jeremy Pruitt, and Dabo Sweeney! Maybe it's still not too late for them to try. It would sure beat political ads!"

Even yours truly, whose income is earned through covering sports, which means sports are at least partly responsible for keeping a roof over my head and food in my daughters' mouths, lives in a house divided.

My oldest daughter Julia Caroline, who turns 16 next week, said of the reader poll question: "If you don't miss live sports, you're insane."

However, her sister Ella Beth, who will turn 14 in October, countered: "No, I'm glad there's no sports right now. I'd rather watch 'Christmas in July' on the Hallmark Channel."

There's also this to consider: We've only been without most sports since mid-March. What happens if the coronavirus forces most of our sports to discontinue their planned seasons until sometime in 2021?

Will absence indeed make the heart grow fonder, as seems to be the case in more polls than not? That includes a recent ESPN survey conducted in late June that found that 78% of the 1,003 sports fans polled were in favor of sports resuming play despite restrictions on fan attendance. That finding was a double-digit increase from the previous poll, conducted in mid-April.

Or will a significant number of people throughout the world move on, slow, if ever, to return?

Who knows? But here in Chattanooga, if not nationwide, my gut feeling is the definition of Christmas in September would be the return of football at all levels. And if Santa Claus can add fans to the stands and political ads to the dumpster, all the better.

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Mark Wiedmer

Contact Mark Wiedmer at mwiedmer@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @TFPWeeds.

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