What we need more than anything in the world right now is understanding. And that’s especially true when it comes to the ‘sports’ world.
The overriding issue at the present time, though, is what are we supposed to understand and how do we do it?
Allow me to state the obvious and call a spade a spade. It seems no one wants to make any definite decisions when it comes to fall sports. And I get it. I hope everyone does. How would anyone like to be the one making the critical calls on whether to proceed with the fall sports season or not?
Me, I’d be as nervous as a long-tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs. And why? Because there honestly is no way any decision-maker can issue a mandate or plan at this point and time and be sure beyond all doubt it can happen. Not here. Not now.
These are different times and the ongoing pandemic has changed the way everyone does business. And that, friends, is not gonna change anytime in the near future.
So what is out there, as far as the fall sports season, that we can possibly understand today? Log on to social media – twitter, facebook, snapchat etc. – and it seems every other person has an idea about what the MHSAA, as well as each individual school district, should do and if football, volleyball, cross country and other fall sports should be played.
Then there’s the aftereffect: how many games should be played, when should we begin the games, how many people in the stands, should masks be required?
You know the drill by now.
Two weeks ago the MHSAA laid out the current plan for the primary fall sports with volleyball beginning regular season play around August 25 and football playing their first regular season games on September 4.
That plan is still in place. Is it concrete? Of course not. Everyone knows the situation could change and another delay could be implemented tomorrow. Or next week. Or next month.
Brandon Shields, who I refer to as the ‘Mississippi Sports Connection,’ posted on his twitter page Monday evening that the Jackson City School District had made the decision to not play fall sports at all. That lit twitter up like a roman candle. Can we imagine the shock the coaches at Jackson schools like Callaway and Lanier must have felt when they heard or saw the news?
I spoke with MHSAA Executive Director Don Hinton Tuesday and he clarified that the whole thing was a mixup of sorts. Someone mis-spoke. But the Jackson City Schools are still on to play at this time.
“We (MHSAA) are being cautiously optimistic at this point,” said Hinton referring to high school sports. “Nobody wants to cancel anything. But we have to make decisions we feel are in the best interest of all parties. We’re watching and listening to what the governor is suggesting and making the safest decisions we can. But we also hope people understand that the number one priority of the MHSAA is academics. Sports is very important. There’s a very fine line there.”
So here’s what we all need to understand right now. The MHSAA, along with each individual school district, will make the best and safest choices they can based on the information available at the time when it comes to the health and safety of every student, athlete, teacher, administrator, bus driver or anyone else else involved in the day-to-day operations of the Mississippi Public Schools.
No decision made at this time can or will be concrete or final. It’s all subject to change. There are optimists and pessimists on either side of any decision made. But when all is said and done, and whether fall sports are played in any structure or not, the bottom line is always safety first.
As it should be.
By the way, on a more local plane, the presidents of the Mississippi Association of Community Colleges (MACC) met last Friday, July 24 and issued a brief statement afterwards saying “we voted to delay the start of the 2020 football season until October 1. The season will consists of a six-game regular season with divisional play only and will conclude with a playoff.”
The statement concluded by saying the MACC will continue to evaluate COVID-19 and its impact on student athletes.
No further information was offered concerning when schedules might be completed or what capacity can be expected for games. I’ll let everyone know when that information becomes available.
Til next time …
Kent Mohundro is the sports editor of the Daily Corinthian. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org