Taking a knee
There was a huge announcement recently, as the Texas UIL put out a schedule for fall sports. Many cheered the announcement, and many did not. Some see it as football and money being put ahead of the safety of students and teachers, and others see it as a chance for a return to normal. I am convinced that either way, normal is a notion that is long gone.
There is no such thing as a “new normal” because with every day the landscape changes. To grasp what those changes mean to teachers and school administrators, you would have to be one. I don’t think there is any way for those of us who do not spend our days in a classroom to understand the challenges that now present themselves to those that do. There is on campus learning, virtual learning, and variations of the two. Teachers are being asked to come up with new ways to do their job, all the while being asked to do so without any conversation on paying them more for answering that call.
Right now, this very day, teachers are the most precious commodity our communities have. It is them that will rise to the challenges before them this year, and I have no doubt in my mind that they will.
Now, back to football.
Football, in Texas, is big business. Whether on the high school level, or college, football is born and bred into our hearts. We love sports in general, and we year after year spend our money on t-shirts, programs, advertising, uniforms and all of the other merch that is involved with sports. Not just football either. But, let’s face it, football is king.
Where else can you see half of a town decked out in their school colors, packed into a stadium on Tuesday nights, Thursday nights, and then again on Friday nights. There is a kinship that comes with it, there is a sense of community that lasts a lifetime. It is important.
Odds are, the stadiums won’t be as full this year. Social distancing and masks will whittle down the crowds, but thanks to another big UIL announcement, we can enjoy the broadcast of the games at home.
I have spent the better of the last week weighing the issue of whether we should be playing football this year, and here is what I think. You are welcome to disagree, and based on the calls and emails I have received on the subject, there will be many that do disagree, but I think we should be having our Friday night lights again, and here is why.
For the last several months our lives have been turned upside down. There have been quarantines, mandates handed down by our governor, and we have lost the ability to go about our daily lives as we are used to doing. We have all watched the number of virus cases rise, we have seen the insanity of people piling onto beaches side by side, and likely we all have known someone who had the virus. Life has slowed down. People are working from home. Businesses have been financially strained, some have not survived.
Life, has become hard.
I believe we need football. We need volleyball. We need that kinship and sense that we are all part of this together. If for no other reason except to be a part of something and not be so isolated from the rest of the world.
Do I think it could impact the number of local cases? Yes, it likely will. But I also have a strong belief that our schools will do everything in their power to keep that from happening. The number of fans in attendance can be limited. Social distancing can be enhanced. Maybe the snack bars won’t be open, or perhaps they can come up with some system that works so you can still get your popcorn. There are a lot of variable that will have to be addressed, but I believe they will be.
But let me add this. If the day comes that sports has to be suspended, let’s cut our administrators some slack. They too are dealing with this pandemic and doing everything in their power to combat it, they deserve our support, not our criticism.
Will I attend a game in person? Probably not many, but when I do you can bet I will have a mask on, and I will keep to myself. My staff will do the same. I was always fond of standing in the endzone up against the goal posts anyway.
One email I received this week that implored me to say something about football being played said, “My conscience is clear knowing that I have left it in very capable hands. I believe that you will do the right thing.”
I believe I have.
We need this, and more than anyone, our athletes need this. We are Texans, and we are Americans. We are innovative leaders with some of the brightest minds in the world. I think our teachers and administrators will find a way to pull this off.
How about, instead of complaining and being brave on social media, we pray for them all. If we are going to take a knee, it ought to be kneeling in prayer. There is nothing we need more of today.