I’ve spent almost every fall Friday evening for the past two decades on the sidelines at a high school football game.
It’s become an important part of my life — and it’s something I genuinely enjoy.
On those rare occasions when I don’t have a game to cover on a Friday night, I feel a bit lost.
So, it pains me a bit to say this. Nevertheless, it needs to be said.
The Kentucky High School Athletic Association should move football this year to the spring.
I know just the mention of that idea is blasphemous to many people.
I don’t like it either.
It just doesn’t feel right, right?
I can’t help but feel like, though, it’s the right thing to do.
Believe me, I want sports to return as much as anyone. This is not only how I make my living, it’s something that brings me so much joy.
For the past three months, I’ve spent my professional life doing mostly non-sports related stuff.
Of course, I’m grateful to still be employed, especially when so many others aren’t right now, but it’s not really what I want to do.
Just like everyone, I want things to go back to normal.
Sadly, it doesn’t look like that’s possible just yet.
And time is running out.
The KHSAA Board of Control met on Friday in Covington. Fans, coaches, parents, students and players from across the state were hoping for some good news — a reason for optimism.
That didn’t happen.
We were left with many more questions than answers.
The current restrictions will stay in place through Aug. 2 and the entire timeline will be re-evaluated when the board meets again later this month.
Most teams were scheduled to hold scrimmages during the first week of August.
That obviously won’t be possible.
The opening week of the regular season is scheduled for Aug. 21/22.
Even if teams are allowed to return to full-contact practice on Aug. 2 — which seems very unlikely — it’s debatable whether they will be ready to play a meaningful 19 or 20 days later.
Then there are other concerns, including testing ...
and social distancing ...
and contact tracing ...
and sanitization of equipment ...
and legal concerns ...
and health of the players ...
and whether or not fans will be allowed into the stands, among so many others.
There’s no reason to believe that all of these issues can be resolved in the next five weeks.
A best-case-scenario would likely end up being a shortened season, maybe five or six regular-season games, depending on the continued spread of COVID-19.
So, why not be proactive?
Instead of trying to force things into a timeline that seems impossible, consider other options.
Be forward thinking.
There’s no reason high school football can’t be played in the spring.
It would certainly be weird.
And, yes, I understand there is a possibility the pandemic could get worse again this winter — and if that happens then schools could shut down again and the entire football season would be lost.
That’s a real possibility.
No one knows what is going to happen.
That’s the difficult dilemma the KHSAA is facing right now.
I’m not being critical of anyone in that organization. Not at all.
I’m just giving my opinion (not that they likely care what I think).
For now, non-contact sports like golf, tennis and cross country seem safe to resume. Baseball, softball, and volleyball might be as well.
I don’t know.
No one really seems to know.
That’s the biggest problem.
Whether it’s this fall, or next spring, I’ll be back on the sidelines when the games resume.
I can’t wait.
But, I can wait.
It’s worth it.