I’m sorry to beat you over the head with Coronavirus talk. You get enough of that just by turning on the TV or radio, or scrolling your social media pages on your phone. It’s impossible to ignore, though. It’s affected every aspect of our life since March 13th when the government basically stopped the world in it’s tracks. There should be multiple baseball, and softball articles here on the official Abbeville Panthers Sports Site. But there is none. The rug was jerked out from under us and most of us are wringing our hands awaiting the official word about fall sports. Particularly football. Football is the key to the car. Without it, most sports will have no funding. I’m not just talking about at AHS. This will be a nationwide ordeal. Football is definitely king in the South, it literally funds every other sport from middle school to college. Without football there will be no baseball, no basketball, no tennis, no soccer, nothing. The financial aspect of football, again, not just here, but nationally is overwhelming. You don’t see 5,000 people at baseball or softball games. You can’t fit 5,000 people into most gyms for basketball games. Yet on any given Friday night in the fall, there’s guaranteed to be a stadium with 2 – 3 – 5,000 people ready and willing to pay their $7 to watch local legends battle it out on that hundred yard battle field.
Can we? Should we? Will we?
Those little questions have popped in and out of my mind probably a thousand times over the last few months. What will happen if we can’t? What will happen to the smaller schools, whose districts don’t give out athletic funding (there’s a lot that don’t)? What will happen to (insert sport here) if football can’t be played this fall. I can tell you what will happen. There won’t be sports. Those life lessons learned on the field, at practice, in the huddle…gone. Discipline, attention to detail, camaraderie, fighting with your brothers to achieve a common goal, the sense of family, the sense of accomplishment, pride, tradition, history.. all gone.
Luckily, I think the decision makers realize this. I think they are asking themselves the same questions. Can we, should we, will we. This week the SCHSL laid out a “plan” that will allow us to crawl, slowly, back into some normalcy. If I had to guess, I think we play. I think the higher ups realize that even one season without football would have such a negative fallout that some schools/towns/communities may not ever recover. The SCHSL has also left the decision of “when” we can return to the practice fields up to each individual school district. Maybe that’s a way to avoid potential litigation down the road. Maybe it’s a way to allow each school a way to make up their own mind about how they want to continue. You can read the entire “return to sports” guidelines here. I’ll be honest. It’s a long, sometimes painful read. There’s a lot to wade through.
Does the fan in me want to hear those pads popping this fall? Of course, sure. But it’s much bigger than that. Football as simple as it sounds, is much more complex. It’s not just behemoth’s running around pounding on each other. It’s a thread of the community. You pull out one thread, and the whole quilt will unravel. So I’ve chosen to take the positive approach. There WILL be football, we WILL play a normal, full schedule, and we WILL be safe in doing so. Say it out loud with me… WE CAN, WE SHOULD and WE WILL…
God Bless and Go Panthers!