For publication in the August 25, 2021 print edition of the Times-Voice.
...of déjà vu all over again.
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.