The Greenville Public School board had to make this decision.
Once they decided a few weeks back that children at their schools would not be allowed to attend in-person algebra or biology classes because of COVID-19, there was no way they could, with a straight face, allow their children to be on the football field.
“While we desire to be normal again, school boards all across the country are faced with extremely tough decisions,” said GPSD Board Member and local business owner Emanuel Edmond. “If it saves one child’s life, it’s worth waiting.”
Edmond is right, of course. If the board believes that it is too risky for school to open, then they have to stick with this decision even when it means taking away something so many people love.
Still, it does not make the decision any less painful for those that it affects.
“The whole football team is sad. We all worked hard at this for so long to be ready for the season, and now it has been taken away from us,” Greenville football player J.J. Kennedy said.
Kennedy is good a kid with a good head on his shoulders.
When I asked him what he could do about it, he responded maturely, “There is nothing we can really do about it. It is not like if we protested or anything that would change anything. We don’t have any power so we just have to accept the decision. Personally, I am going to start getting ready for soccer season. That is the next sport that I might get to play.”
While Kennedy and his teammates are understandably disappointed, finding out the reaction of the coaches was a little more difficult. A number of coaches at the GPSD were contacted by reporters from the Delta Democrat-Times, and they each said they were told by the school district not to discuss the decision. I suspect that many of them may totally disagree with the decision of the board. It is a totally rationale opinion. After all, taking sports away from some of these at-risk students may do more long term damage to them then if a few of them caught the virus.
And, while I accept and understand the GPSD’s decision, I actually believe this decision should be made at a statewide level.
As of Friday morning, it is looking like some schools in Washington County may be playing sports this fall while others are not. Schools participating in the Midsouth Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) are still scheduled to kick off their seasons on Aug. 21. Schools, other than Greenville in Washington County, who compete in the Mississippi High School Activities Association are scheduled to begin their seasons two weeks later on Sept. 4.
My opinion is that because high school football is so important to so many people, the leadership at both the MAIS and the MHSAA would like for school boards like Greenville’s to make the tough decisions so they don’t have to.
I also think that, many times, how one feels about the coronavirus depends heavily on where people sit on the political aisle, and these feelings trickle all the way down to how you feel about playing high school sports this fall.
As the sports editor of the Delta Democrat-Times, this has the making of a truly bizarre high school sports season this fall. Right now, I do not have a solid conviction on whether or not sports should be played.
All I know is it appears some kids will get to play and other kids won’t, and something seems wrong about that.
David W. Healy is the sports editor of the Delta Democrat Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.