For publication in the August 25, 2021 print edition of the Times-Voice.

...of déjà vu all over again.

 
We were on the cusp of the 2021 high school football season opener. Breathitt was set to play Magoffin on the road, a game for which our team would have been prohibitive favorites. 
 
Then it happened. Then came déjà vu all over again.
 
Last year around this time, the KHSAA announced the season would be postponed a couple of weeks. Just to refresh your recollection, the KHSAA “board of control” became instant, streaming stars and social media influencers a year ago. Their online meetings were watched by fans, players, and coaches across the commonwealth. 

The board presented sports fans with options. Those options included moving fall sports to the spring or sandwiching fall sports between two other seasons.

The option the board of control ended up passing was delaying the start of fall sports, in 2020, which drastically shortened football season and the season of all the fall sports. Football practice began August 24th in 2020. The regular season started September 11th. The ’20 season ran for a nine-week period.

Breathitt opened on September 11, 2020 at Estill County. We weren’t supposed to open on the road against this darn tough, 3A opponent. We were supposed to slip into that game like an elderly man slips into a warm bath. 

All plans of that happening were lost when our original opener on August 21st, a second game we had scheduled for August 28th, and a third game we had scheduled for September 4th were all wiped clean by the Board’s vote. Among the games lost was our beloved Honey Bowl. I believe all three were to be played at home. 

That is losing quite a bit of revenue. Have you been to The Riverbank? 

Breathitt really packs in the home crowds. All the sports at Breathitt need the football gate and concessions. It comprises a substantial portion of the athletic department’s annual budget.

After the season had commenced, we were still losing games. Breathitt lost our game, September 25th, with Knott to COVID-19. We lost our game with Leslie County, in Hyden, October 23rd for the same reason. We lost our game, at Paintsville, on November 6th. 

After playing Pike County Central last year on October 30th, we didn’t play again for nearly a month. Our next game was the first-round of the KHSAA playoffs (November 20, 2020) against a Knott County team we were seeing for the first time.

Oh the pernicious and nefarious hands of this global health crisis. Oh Lord, my God, [was] there [to be] no help for the widow's son? 

Notwithstanding all of the calamity and irregularity, Breathitt still played for a Regional championship and finished the year playing eight games, three of those playoff appearances. Regional championship entrants customarily play 13-games, not eight. 

However, that was last year. We have vaccines. 

Our active infections numbers, little more than about a month ago, had fallen to “3.” We were heading for zero. I was making plans to finally end a series of articles tracking our in-county, COVID-19 numbers which had run, seemingly, as long as America’s involvement in Afghanistan. 

There were close to zero Kentucky counties in the red, just a month ago. Nothing would derail us now. 

Even the Kentucky legislature and the Governor, appeared to feel guilty about the way the ’20 season transpired. The governing entities provided a pathway, through passing and adopting into law SB-128, so appropriately aged seniors who had graduated in the Spring of ’21 could come back, repeat the senior year, and play the Fall of ’21. 

Then it happened. Then came déjà vu all over again.
 
Then came the Delta variant. Here is what that particular strain has done in just one month’s time.
 
On July 20, 2021, Breathitt County had an incidence rate of 6.8 infected per 100K. On July 20, 2021, there were just nine KY-counties in the “red.” By the way; “red” is “bad.” 
 
Breathitt, for its part, was darn close to hitting “green.” Breathitt was inching closer to painting its county’s pallet in what has become the prettiest of what is commonly called primary colors.
 
In a month’s time (August 20, 2021), Breathitt County’s incidence rate exploded from 6.8 to 67.2 infected per 100K. Anything over 25 per 100K is “red,” and therefore, “bad.” 
 
I would call our rate being 2.688 times the rate considered “bad;” very, very bad. Some might call it “horrid.” Some would be right.
 
In a month’s time, we had gone from there being nine KY-counties in the “red” to every KY-county but for six (Robertson 20.3 per 100K, Wayne 24.6, Clinton 7, Trigg 21.5, Hickman 19.6, and Fulton 19.1) being “red.” By the time this editorial runs in the next print edition of the Times-Voice, we are confident WayneTrigg, and Robertson will have joined the “reds.” By the following week’s print edition, Hickman and Fulton will have accepted bids into the “red” fraternity, leaving only lonely Clinton
 
Keep trying Clinton! Who knows, with a little elbow grease, you may join the rest of us. We can be one, great-big, “red” family.
 
So here we are, having just embarked on a ’21 football season which has evolved into being both eerily and unexpectedly reminiscent of a year ago. The similarities between the two times hearkening the quote attributed to the late, Yogi Berra, famous for such nonsensical prose. It looks like ’21 will be similar to ’20. As Yoggi would say, ”It's like déjà vu all over again.” 
 
That commentary has never sounded smarter. 
 
No offense meant, but making the late Yoggi Berra sound wise has never been insignificant.
 
This if Fletcher Long and you can take this for whatever you find it worth but THAT’S THE LONG VERSION!

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