I know it’s difficult to hear for many in this community. But it has to be said.

The tennis courts are to blame for the coronavirus pandemic.

Many in our community have laid all of Rome and Floyd County’s problems at the doorstep of the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College. And rightly so. This pandemic should be no different.

Since the tennis courts have been built, the world has been in chaos and I can’t help but believe the painted concrete surfaces just off the Armuchee Bypass are solely to blame.

Here are some of the things that have happened since the new tennis facility was built and for which the center and elitist tennis players should take full responsibility:

1. The deaths of country legends John Prine, Joe Diffie and Charlie Daniels.

2. The Australian wildfires.

3. Skyrocketing unemployment.

4. The Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020.

5. Joe Exotic being sent to prison in that Tiger King documentary.

6. Racial tension/riots across the country.

7. The death of Kobe Bryant.

8. Prince Harry abandoning the royal family.

9. The Boy Scouts filing for bankruptcy.

10. The Olympics being canceled.

And now the coronavirus.

Here’s the thing. I’m not technically a virologist nor do I hold an advanced degree in medicine. However, I can promise you the building of the new tennis center was the catalyst for the pandemic. It’s been brewing since construction started a couple years ago. And as SOON as that new indoor complex was completed, here comes the RONA. Coincidence? I think not.

Here’s my reasoning behind all this. The tennis courts cater only to the rich elites who play the sport. They do not benefit the community in general whatsoever. I mean, sure they bring in thousands of players, their families and supporters when tournaments are in town. That’s great for all our local businesses and in particular our restaurants, stores and hotels. And yes, I suppose all those people promoting our community and returning time after time to stay and spend money here is sort of a positive.

And I SUPPOSE that local kids and adults who take lessons, play in leagues or just enjoy the sport socially do benefit from the healthy, active environment the courts offer. But that still doesn’t change the fact that the city leaders are simply using the courts to funnel money into their own pockets. I don’t know exactly how they’re doing that since all financial transactions are recorded and made public, but I still think they’re somehow using the courts as a front for some massive money laundering scheme and I won’t stand for it.

Do you know that I drove past the tennis courts at 4 a.m. on Sunday morning and there was absolutely NO ONE playing on the courts and not one car in the parking lot? What an absolute waste of taxpayer money. That money could have been used to fix our streets, stop crime, cure cancer or save endangered opossums in the Smokies. But no. Rich, entitled tennis players just HAD to have brand spanking new courts to play on.

I was recently told that the funds used to construct the tennis courts had been allotted especially to that project and could not have been spent in other areas, but I still think the pothole on my street and the broken urinal at my child’s middle school are the fault of the tennis courts.

It’s disgusting, if you ask me.

Here’s how I know the tennis courts don’t benefit our community. Whenever one of these big fancy tournaments comes to town that ALLEGEDLY brings in thousands and thousands of dollars, I don’t see a dime of it. You’d think officials would send out individual checks to local families after every tournament. They don’t. That means that our community can’t possibly be benefiting from the tennis courts being here.

And finally, as if the universe is punishing us for our extravagance and wastefulness, the coronavirus descends upon Rome and Floyd County because of the new tennis center. My elderly grandmother can’t visit her family. I can’t get toilet paper at the store. Businesses are closing. I can’t sit and eat at Soho Hibachi. All because our greedy millionaire tennis players and power-hungry local officials have conspired to swindle taxpayers out of our hard-earned dollars.

The coronavirus is Rome’s punishment for building those detestable new tennis courts and no one will convince me otherwise.

Severo Avila is Features Editor for the Rome News-Tribune.

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