Ac­cept it: foot­ball is a brief spring sport this year

The Dundalk Eagle - - SPORTS AND RECREATION - By Bill Gates

So, this was tweeted by for­mer Bal­ti­more County coun­cil­man, U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive and Mary­land gov­er­nor Robert L. Ehrlich ear­lier this week:

“I thought about the MPSSAA an aw­ful lot this week­end as I watched high school foot­ball be­ing played around the coun­try. Our play­ers — our par­ents — our coaches — our schools de­serve bet­ter.

“Let the MPSSAA hear your voice.”

I agree. In Florida, my nephew’s alma mater is play­ing foot­ball (My nephew, on the other hand, no longer plays: he’s in the USAF train­ing to be an air com­mando). Most states in the coun­try are play­ing high school foot­ball.

And hear I sit, still not know­ing any­one per­son­ally who has been hos­pi­tal­ized with COVID-19. No close friends, no fam­ily, no rel­a­tives. Just blessed, I guess.

We should be watch­ing high school foot­ball right now. But it’s not that sim­ple.

The Mary­land Pub­lic Se­condary Schools Ath­letic

As­so­ci­a­tion (the afore-ref­er­enced MPSSAA) made the de­ci­sion ear­lier this sum­mer to post­pone the fall and win­ter sports sea­sons.

We’re in mid-Septem­ber. By rule, there must be 20 days be­tween the start of prac­tice and the start of ac­tual games. Even if the MPSSAA sud­denly re­versed it­self, we’d be look­ing at, best case, late Oc­to­ber be­fore the sea­son started.

Real­is­ti­cally, the ship of Mary­land High School Foot­ball 2020 has sailed. Along with all the other fall sports.

Un­less any­one is look­ing for­ward to play­ing out­doors in De­cem­ber and Jan­uary. Gotta ad­mit, just stand­ing on the side­lines in that weather wouldn’t ap­peal to me.

Then there’s the de­ci­sion to have re­mote learn­ing for the first se­mes­ter. Sports are not al­lowed to take place on days schools are closed.

Don’t know for sure how this ap­plies to re­mote learn­ing. Schools are tech­ni­cally in ses­sion, but the school build­ings and fa­cil­i­ties are closed.

Then there’s the pre­dic­tions from ex­perts that when the weather gets colder, the coro­n­avirus will launch a sec­ond wave of in­fec­tions.

More than a few peo­ple I’ve spo­ken to who work for the school sys­tem aren’t op­ti­mistic the county will be able to re­sume in-per­son learn­ing for the sec­ond se­mes­ter.

An en­tire school year of re­mote learn­ing. Bring­ing with it, I would imag­ine, an en­tire school year with­out ath­let­ics.

Sorry kids; rot­ten luck to be an ath­lete in the Class of 2021.

As I’ve noted be­fore, the school sys­tems and the MPSSAA are faced with im­pos­si­ble choices. Kids want to be in school and play­ing sports. Par­ents want their kids to be in school and play­ing sports.

But they’re not the ones who face the con­se­quences if stu­dents and ath­letes (and their fam­i­lies) start get­ting sick.

On the other hand, say ev­ery­thing works out: Mary­land stays in Stage 3, maybe even makes it to Stage 4. Schools re­open for in-per­son learn­ing. The three short­ened sports sea­son go off as sched­uled dur­ing the sec­ond se­mes­ter.

First, foot­ball still gets the short end of the stick. Five games, while bet­ter than noth­ing, still isn’t much of a sea­son.

The spring sea­son will not end un­til af­ter the se­niors grad­u­ate. I guess they’ll tech­ni­cally still be el­i­gi­ble? I’m sure the state has al­ready fac­tored in al­lowance for this.

I still don’t see there be­ing state tour­na­ments. Five-week sea­sons don’t re­ally al­low for it, if you want a de­cent-sized reg­u­lar sea­son.

And I’m near cer­tain no one will want to risk the state wrestling tour­na­ment, which brings hundreds of peo­ple from across the state to a two-day event in The Show Place Arena; and the state track and field cham­pi­onships, a three-day event which sees hundreds and hundreds of peo­ple from across the state to Morgan State Univer­sity.

Three years be­tween state track and field cham­pi­onships ...

***

Still haven’t watched any NBA, NHL or MLB games since their sea­sons restarted. Were the Ori­oles re­ally com­pet­ing for a play­off spot, only to be es­sen­tially fin­ished off by the Yan­kees, or was it a night­mare?

***

Didn’t turn on any NFL games un­til about 10 min­utes af­ter the sched­uled kick­off time, be­cause rea­sons.

But some­one let me know when play­ers boldly take a stand on be­half of the vic­tims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and sex­ual as­sault.

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