Governor...fall sports will play
In what amounts to way more than a sports story, our young people will get to play this fall and learned something about the peaceful right to assemble in the bargain!
We should be used to it by now, our news breaking on social media platforms like Twitter. Why should news of the governor’s intent to either affirm or disrupt the KHSAA’s Board of Control’s decision about fall sports, and whether or when it would be played, be any different?
On the 20th of August, 2020, the Board of Control voted by a 16-2 margin to permit fall practices to begin the 24th of August with play to commence in all sports but football the 7th of September. Football, it was overwhelmingly decided, would begin the 11th of September.
The governor was asked about that Board’s decision at his weekly news conference the same afternoon. He seemed surprised at the decision and indicated both the Health Department and he would have to take a long, in-depth look at the propriety of that vote.
Monday afternoon, the 24th of August, 2020, with the Bobcats of Breathitt High School in the full throws of its football practice, the word came down from on high. I received a Tweet from one of Kentucky’s more esteemed and read sports journalists that Andy Beshear had made a statement. The statement was, “We’re not going to overturn that (Board of Control’s) decision, and it’s not because I think it’s a good decision or a wise decision.”
So…you’re saying we can play! You may not like it or think it wise but you aren’t going to prevent the people appointed to make that decision from making it.
That exasperation of breath was from every fall athlete and his or her family across the commonwealth of Kentucky. We are eternally grateful the governor is going to stay out of the way and let the will of the people be the ultimate authority. How utterly democratic of him.
This pandemic has the least amount of impact, among the impacted age groups, in the school-aged kids around our commonwealth and country. The rate of infections and the disease’s resultant mortalities all support that contention.
We were able to poll some area coaches in Breathitt County and asked each of them the same thing. We asked each coach how many athletes on their fall rosters had tested positive for coronavirus or had contracted Covid-19. We heard back from several. One had something to say about fall sports being played which we thought, at the newspaper, readers needed to consider.
Gentry Hayes, who coaches soccer at Jackson City School told us that, “As of today, the entire team, myself included, has been tested. We have had two positive cases of Covid-19. We are a few days into the mandatory two-week break from practice required when a player tests positive. Every other kid on our roster has tested negative but for the two we’ve just discussed.”
Stephen Bowling, coach of the defending Regional Champion volleyball team at Breathitt High School told us, “We have had some players who have traveled out of state and, because of that, we have required them to be tested. We have had zero positive tests come back for either coaching staff or athletes.” When asked about the importance of his athletes getting to play, Coach Bowling had plenty to say and seemed glad we asked.
“We are taking every precaution to ensure our players enjoy both a healthy environment and the benefits which come from developing personal skills, building teamwork, and learning to work together toward a common goal” Coach Bowling told us. “We often forget sports are about more than wins or losses. High school sports are about overcoming challenges and learning to be a member of society long after we leave the playing field. We often forget about the development and growth side of athletics.
Coach Kyle Moore, Athletics Director and Head Football Coach of Breathitt’s defending Regional Championship football team was asked about whether any of his athletes had tested positive. His answer, from a man we know to be of precious few words, was a simple and concise, “Zero.”
So we’re playing. We’re playing on the schedule the Board of Control voted overwhelmingly to adopt. All of the work of the #LetUsPlay movement around the commonwealth was successful. Along the way, the kids involved in fall season sports got a lesson in both responsible citizenship and democracy. For the rest of us, we got a lesson in the importance of having a Twitter account.