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EDITORIAL: Mad about football being canceled? Call the governor

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EDITORIAL: Mad about football being canceled? Call the governor

Gov. Brian Kemp speaks during a televised town hall on March 26. Screen shot taken from a live feed of the town hall event.
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This post has been updated. 

My son was supposed to start his first day of kindergarten on Monday.

The good people at DeKalb County Schools tell me that my son can expect the same level of education he would get attending school in person. We all know this is clearly bullshit. It will be an attempt at an education. Both sides will try. But it will not be the same, because Kindergarteners also receive social and emotional experiences that are important to their development. They won’t get those staring at a screen.

My family has come to terms with it. We accept the decision to ask a 5-year-old to sit in front of a computer and pretend it’s school because some education is better than none at all. We do not blame our school officials. We blame our elected leaders, in particular Gov. Brian Kemp, who have failed us with their half-measures and tried to deceive us by manipulating the COVID-19 data for political purposes.

Our anger will be directed there. That’s also where the parents of student-athletes should direct their rage.

Some of these parents spoke at a recent Decatur School Board meeting and asked why their children cannot play football. I don’t want to beat up on them. Their hearts are broken, but their priorities are all out of whack.

Football and other sports should not receive a special exemption because parents of players are upset. All parents with children in school are upset. If we can’t have kindergarten due to COVID-19, we shouldn’t be playing football.

I would like to note here that I am a football fan and I am extremely disappointed that playing a regular-season is even being considered at the college level. I’m less concerned about professional sports because those athletes are paid and are adults who can roll the dice if they choose.

Amateur athletes who play for free are in a tougher spot, particularly high school players. Players will play so they don’t risk missing out on the rewards reaped by other players.

But high school football teams will lack the testing and PPE that resource-rich college programs and professional teams can afford. The odds are not in their favor.

DeKalb County officials haven’t gotten the message and have negligently allowed sports to continue under the assumption that the GHSA guidelines will protect students. City Schools of Decatur wisely and correctly chose to postpone football until at least Sept. 25, but we can go ahead and assume the season is all but canceled.

The teams and school districts that choose to charge ahead with this foolish idea are about to get sacked by reality. I can’t predict how the high school football season will go, but here’s how I suspect it will play out.

Players will get sick, forcing their teammates to quarantine. Games will be canceled, causing those teams to possibly forfeit the games. Rescheduling them may be impossible. Widespread infections could cause teams to cancel their season mid-year, leaving the remaining teams with few or no games on their schedule and their seasons will end, too.

It will be chaos and not the fun kind that makes football enjoyable. Anyone who can’t see this coming is in denial.

 

Yes, some students will lose scholarships because their season is canceled. But some special needs students will also suffer developmental delays because they are unable to physically attend school. Decatur Superintendent David Dude admitted that it’s all but impossible to deliver those services virtually.

There will be pain and everyone will feel it. The only thing that’s being decided now is whether we will accept that reality or continue deluding ourselves into thinking high school football can happen.

My family has accepted our reality. Our son won’t go to kindergarten and there’s a decent chance he won’t even get to meet his teacher face to face this year. That’s probably one of the better outcomes. Other kids in greater need will have it worse.

Losing scholarships is sad. So is losing a year of elementary school.

If you want to do something about it, call Gov. Kemp’s office and ask him why he won’t adopt common-sense policies like a mask mandate. Ask him why he won’t even entertain the idea of another lockdown to get community spread under control so we can have school again.

But don’t pine for something that is already lost. Football ain’t happening, y’all. It’s time to move on.

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