Gene Sapakoff is a columnist and College Sports Editor at The Post and Courier with focus mostly on Clemson, South Carolina, SEC and ACC athletics. But also golf, the Charleston RiverDogs, Atlanta Braves, Carolina Panthers. And road food.

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Kids play a football outside Williams-Brice Stadium before the 2019 Clemson-South Carolina football game. For coronavirus safety, how about a mask-making contest between fans of the two schools? Andrew Whitaker/Staff

Think of coronavirus masks as bumper stickers for your face.

Except that while it’s the bumper that saves lives on a rolling automobile, the sticker is what sticks out during a pandemic.

So far, it’s apparent that not enough South Carolinians are getting the very clear message from the Center for Disease Control and other experts that masks are a vital tool in the fight to stop the spread.

My survey of observed citizens at four Lowcountry grocery stores, a Target and a Wal-Mart on Sunday afternoon and Monday covered 400 people. Only 20 percent had masks. Social media scouts around the state confirmed a similar Sunday/Monday percentage, with a few reporting as much as 60 percent usage within given stores (mostly in the Upstate and Midlands) and others less than 10 percent.

While that’s up from my 2-in-75 observations of Friday and surely encouraging, it’s still a bit concerning.

Enough to know it’s time for a good old-fashioned rivalry.

South Carolina vs. Clemson.

In a homemade mask preparation and display battle to run concurrently with our current unpleasantness.

Having no store-bought mask is no excuse for not wearing a mask to the store.

The CDC, while recommending that Americans wear masks, has put out a short video showing how almost anyone can make an effective mask with common items.

In the video, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams uses a Washington Nationals towel as an example.

Like any good head coach, you just have to make the most out of your material.

Orange material.

Garnet stuff.

Who knew those old T-shirts could be put to use on the front line of a war?

Showing your school pride and possibly keep people off ventilators at the same time is better than a game-winning field goal on the road.

Bill Murray vs. Ohio State

Let’s not mask our mask intentions. Fans of any school can get into the act.

How about some Citadel, College of Charleston, Charleston Southern, Furman and Wofford support out there?

Coastal Carolina teal, please.

High school, too.

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Is there a Summerville Green Wave? Prove it.

Alas, don’t let Ohio State scarlet and gray dominate here.

Of course, you can decorate your mask any way you want.

“Save the prairie dogs” or “Bill Murray for president” or “My kid is almost an honor student.”

You can add a smiley face, a religious symbol, your phone number, a hashtag, the grocery list, words of inspiration.

Perhaps a small photo of what you look like (on a good day) sans mask?

Ultimately, though, the mask movement can get a huge vault from college football fans. Which is something the CDC should know, with their Atlanta headquarters located in the heart of SEC and ACC madness.

Like seat belt laws

Seriously, we're not taking this mask thing seriously enough.

Take Dr. Nicole Saphier’s word for it. She pointed out Monday on FOX News that mask-wearers are not just protecting themselves, but others. Because we sadly still don’t know as much as we should about people who have coronavirus but are asymptomatic.

Dr. Saphier, of the renowned Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, compared the push for masks to seat belt laws that eventually saved so many lives.

“People really need incentives,” she said, “either positive or negative.”

For whatever reason, the Palmetto State was not getting it done out there on Sunday and Monday.

Store clerks and restaurant take-out people (and their management) particularly should be taking heed.



Let’s get “All In.”

“Spurs Up!”

You won’t be offended seeing a fellow store visitor in masks done up in rival colors. You’ll be safer.

The hope is that masks will help us breathe easier in a state with the motto “While I breathe, I hope.”

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff