7.29 khsaa

"If you reach back in your memory ...

A little bell might ring ...

About a time that once existed ...

When money wasn't king ...

If you stretch your imagination ...

I'll tell you all a tale ...

About a time when everything ...

Wasn't up for sale ..."

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers — "Money Becomes King"

Those words came floating back into my head as I watched the Kentucky High School Athletic Association's Board of Control meeting on Tuesday morning.

Those lyrics hit me with a force that made me furious and incredibly sad in the same moment.

I should have expected it.

There was very little doubt, of course, about what would happen in that meeting.

Despite a serious health issue still hanging over our state (and most of the country), the KHSAA approved measures that would set the stage for a return to athletic competition this fall.

Each vote was almost unanimous. There wasn't even much discussion about the matters.

That didn't really bother me.

I want sports to return as much as anyone. It is how I make a living.

What really struck me, though, was the obvious indifference of most of the members of the board of control and the callous attitude of KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett.

A statement he made near the very beginning of the meeting was extremely enlightening.

Referencing how travel teams and AAU squads from Kentucky were playing all across the country while high school sports were shut down, Tackett offered this unsolicited comment on the situation.

“We don’t want to empower outside people to get third-party opportunities started," the commissioner said.

It not hard to decode the meaning.

It's simple.

We don't want anyone taking away a piece of our action.

The KHSAA is basically a monopoly.

It is a powerful force that generates a lot of revenue — as long as the athletes play and the sponsors keep writing checks.

And neither of those things have been happening recently.

The KHSAA certainly took a big financial hit when the organization had to cancel both the state basketball tournaments last March. They stand to lose even more money if they can't play six football state championships later this year at Kroger Field in Lexington.

It's about money.

Period.

Tackett and the KHSAA know if they don't move forward quickly — even in the middle of pandemic — the organization will suffer further financial losses.

They won't allow that to happen.

Even if that means putting people at risk.

Don't believe me?

Listen to what Tackett had to say a little later in the meeting.

While discussing other states that have resumed youth sports, the commissioner said there "Was no evidence of player-to-player transmission of the virus."

This ridiculous statement comes as news continues to develop about the outbreak of COVID-19 amongst the Miami Marlins. A total of 17 players on that Major League Baseball team have tested positive for the virus.

Later on, Tackett was asked how schools should handle any potential outbreaks among fall sports team. He responded those would be "administrative, not medical decisions."

Only one member of the board, Jerry Wyman, director of athletics for Jefferson County Public Schools, put up any resistance. Much to his credit, he abstained from the votes approving the return of fall sports.

"I just can't vote for it," he said at one point.

The others did.

Without as much as a whimper.

And perhaps the most hypocritical part of the whole meeting was the revealing of a new KHSAA logo.

The organization's tradition oval design was partially covered with a mask and included the hashtags #TogetherWePlay and #MaskUp.

It's hard to imagine anything more obtuse.

At a time when you can't walk into any retail store without wearing a mask, the KHSAA is ready to put kids back on athletic fields — WITHOUT A MASK.

That's what happens when money becomes king.

Bad decisions are made.

The KHSAA Board of Control is set to meet again on Aug. 20, just days before practice for fall sports is set to resume. If the situation hasn't improved and COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the state, I hope they will consider other options.

Options that aren't motivated mostly by money.

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