Perhaps the biggest reason for the confusion regarding high school football this fall is that the S.C. High School League is reacting in real time and COVID-19 isn’t.
No one gets the novel coronavirus immediately. It shows up in a week, maybe two. The spike in South Carolina cases that showed up in mid-June began with the social interactions of Memorial Day weekend. Another rise occurred in the aftermath of the Fourth of July. If the latest changes in people’s behavior and government restrictions do any good, the results won’t show up for a while yet.
As a result, it looks as if the High School League is constantly making revisions based on the way it is today and redrawing based on what happens in two weeks.
Commissioner Jerome Singleton and his executive committee keep drawing lines in the proverbial sand and wiping them away with their proverbial shoes to draw new lines on how the sports, which are not proverbial, will be played.
The only proposal that might be considered farsighted – the one that was proposed by officials of Lexington County District 1 to reorder the sports seasons and move football to early spring 2021 – was withdrawn early this week after originally being defeated 16-1 by the board and then appealed.
The football regular season was first reduced from 10 to seven regular-season games, and now, as approved 18-0 by the executive committee in a Wednesday Zoom meeting, it will begin on Sept. 25 instead of Sept. 11. Practice will begin in earnest on Sept. 8 instead of Aug. 17.
Anticipating less risk, the SCHSL is allowing other sports – girls’ tennis, girls’ golf and cross country – to start practicing on Aug. 17 and competing on Aug. 31. Volleyball teams can start practicing on Aug. 24 and playing on Sept. 7. Competitive cheer teams may practice on Sept. 8 and compete on Oct. 13.
Nothing is final until the virus is.
High school coaches are educators, too, and if there are any who still don’t take this national disaster seriously, they aren’t talking about it. They’re frustrated. They want to coach football, not calisthenics and catch, and their athletes want to play football. They want to line up in helmets and pads and run plays. They want to block and tackle, and run and catch. All they’re getting good at is pregame drills.
The coaches at LDHS and Clinton are abiding the restrictions and making sure the players are safe, but they can’t control what the kids do when the limited workouts are over.
Out in the community, and on social media, a few people are still claiming it’s all some ruse. Some apparently won’t take this virus, this scourge, seriously until they’re hospitalized. Many were wrong in April, and they’re more wrong now.
Death is no conspiracy. Nor is it a hoax.
It’s changing, though. More and more are wearing masks and keeping their distance. Are these people going to stop being part of the problem and join the solution?
Time will tell. About a week, maybe two. If enough people straighten up, maybe they can fly right.