Tennessee did something amazing…it opened high school football play in the middle of a Covid-19 crisis

The numbers recorded in Tennessee on August 21, 2020 were awful. Tennessee, a state with 140,844 cases and a statewide death toll of 1,549, opened its football season. Worse yet, they opened their high school football season on a day its health department added 61-deaths to the statewide death toll, the highest single-day death increase since the pandemic’s declaration.

There was no outcry in Tennessee. There was no outrage demanding to know what was more important, the safety of the students or the commencement of the season. There weren’t any major sports journalists inquiring of readers just what lesson Tennessee high schools were teaching their athletes’ concerning their coping strategies for a football-less world or the member schools’ priorities visa vie sports or the health, safety, and welfare of its students.

Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Soddy-Daisy captain Isaac Barnes (1) waits at midfield for the coin toss before the start of Soddy-Daisy’s game against Red Bank at Red Bank Community Stadium on Friday, Aug. 21, 2020 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Tennessee, and similarly situated states which also opened last night, resigned themselves to the reality that the virus is here, dangerous, and a problem from which we can no longer hide. It is a problem with which we must all learn to live. It does no good, at all, to permit it to stop our world from rotating on its axis.

Tennessee, a state which has three times as many cases as Kentucky’s 42,265 and nearly twice as many death’s as Kentucky’s 864, lined it up across the state. They played football last night. They put the ball on the tee, strapped on their gear, and soldiered along. They kicked off the 2020 high school football season.

I don’t know how many of you follow us on Twitter. We are @KPGFootball on Twitter, for those who don’t. You really should follow us.

We posted a response from a mother of a Louisville area player to a person who sought to chastise her solicitation to let her son play the game he loves with the entirely misleading argument, “The risk…is death.” Her response was both spot on and brilliant and we posted it.

She enumerated the many ways in which we face the risk of death in everyday life. For instance, every time we get in a car, or go hunting for sport, or enjoy open water recreation. We risk death when we walk in an electrical storm, or under construction scaffolding. The list goes on, ad infinitum.

Death is life’s truest certainty. We face it in the shower, on the road to work, trying to fit in one more hole at the local golf club before the heavy stuff really hits. We all die sometime. Mortality is life’s deadliest affliction. We all suffer from it.

However, lets talk a minute about this theory your child playing football this fall poses, for him, a “risk of death.” Tennessee breaks down, by age group, how many deaths it has, to date, suffered. Take a guess how many Tennesseans, ages 11-20, comprised part of that state’s 1,549 dead? NOT A SINGLE, SOLITARY ONE.

We attempted to find similar data for Kentucky. It may have been a failure on our part but we couldn’t find it.

We have heard Kentucky, too, hasn’t a single death, among its 864, who are aged between 11-20. It would stand to reason based on the numbers of our neighbor to the south.

The argument people attempt to make, that your son playing football this fall is posing a risk of death from Covid-19 both for him and the other sons playing, is misplaced and not factually supported. It is a good-sounding argument, proffered by individuals who are probably and privately in support of canceling the sport forever, and it really, really sounds sexy, but it isn’t true. It is likely the people making it are aware of this.

We, in Kentucky, have done a pretty good job of containing the virus, as much as it can be contained. Our numbers are the envy of many of the states bordering us. Our kids have curtailed activity, complied with wearing personal protective equipment, and socially distanced. They have worked hard to give themselves a chance to get to return to some sense of normalcy this fall.

They have worn masks, been subjected to daily temperature checks, foregone trips to the beach and other super-spreader, summertime activities, and have followed the recommendations of the Governor’s office and the health department. They may not have done it flawlessly, but well. Is their reward the knowledge their compliance was all for naught?

For the life-lessons crowd, what lesson does it teach when our kids cross the obstacles we put in front of them, with the promise their performance in accordance with directives is the path to the resumption of some degree of normal life, only for us to come up to the witching hour and cancel their seasons, in spite of their efforts? Perhaps worse, we wait till the deadline, after they have done as asked, to kick the can further down the road just as they reach down to grasp what was to be their reward?

I don’t think an appropriate life lesson is, no matter what you do, we are still going to screw you over in the end. You just as well do what you want, now. After all, instant gratification is the only gratification you’ll ever get, in spite of what you do, or how you choose to do it.

There are forces in the world teaching our kids that anyway. I have never heard of those forces, or those lessons, being deemed constructive, valuable, or commendable. I have been on this earth a while and I have never seen the lessons, some of you wish to teach, be described as the least bit desirable. Then, again, that is just me.

This is Coach HB Lyon, reporting for KPGFootball, and we’re JUST CALLING IT LIKE WE SEE IT!

If you enjoyed this article and wish to gain full-access to the site, then subscribe monthly to Kentucky Prep Gridiron by following the prompts

© The information contained on this site is the copyrighted intellectual property of KPGFootball. Any unauthorized dissemination of this material without the author’s express written consent is strictly prohibited!

Leave a Reply