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High-school football needs to happen

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

There are no bad guys, no villains in this equation.

Let’s start with that.

The health and well-being of student-athletes is vitally important, and we are dealing with a pandemic that unfortunately looks like it’s not fading away anytime soon, particularly in this part of the world.

There are well-intentioned people who, because of the impact of Covid-19, believe high-school football shouldn’t  be played, and they should not be demonized for that opinion.

So with what we know, and with what we don’t know about this virus, is it worth it?

Should we go through with a football season, taking into account the nature of the sport and the way it’s played (no social distancing on the gridiron), when Covid-19 is still very much a part of our lives?

In answering that question, I’ll admit my bias.

I have an overwhelming appreciation for what high-school football means to so many and I love the sport and everything it represents.

With that in mind, I say it is absolutely worth it.

Should precautions be taken?

Yes, and it should be pointed out that the guidelines put in place for summer workouts have worked well, even as the transition was made to full-contact practice last week.

Our coaches in Troup County have taken this very seriously and have put safety first, which isn’t surprising if you know the men leading these programs.

If there is a season, I have no doubt that the coaches here, and in other communities, will continue to make safety a priority.

Even though Covid-19 will still be prevalent on Sept. 4 when the season is supposed to begin, I believe the benefits of having a high-school season far outweigh what would be gained by not playing.

Is there a risk involved by playing?

Of course.

There is, though, I believe, a heavy cost that would be paid by canceling the season.

The sport means so much to those involved, and the investment the players and coaches put into preparing for a season is a heavy one, and it’s one they pay gladly and willingly.

For so many players, high-school football is more than just a game.

It is a way of life and such a massively important part of their high-school experience, and to deny them the opportunity to play would be a cruel blow.

Also, consider that in some cases football and being a part of that family provides a student the stability and focus they so desperately need, and if there is no season there will be some students who take steps backward without the guidance they gain from the sport.

Football also provides a way for some students to go to college, and the importance of that can’t be minimized.

A lot of players have done enough to ensure a place on a college roster, but others need their senior season to prove they have the goods to succeed on that level.

The players need high-school football, and honestly I believe communities across the state need it as well.

It has been a challenging year in so many ways, and having football on Friday nights this fall would mean so much.

With that said, if players and their families decide to opt out, that’s a decision that 100 percent should be respected, and I know the local coaches will support anyone who doesn’t want to play.

Also, we all have to realize that just because a season begins doesn’t mean it will end, and that everything could get shut down if there is an outbreak, and let’s pray that doesn’t happen.

As we’ve learned over the past six months, there are no guarantees, and no one knows what’s going to happen a month, or even a week from now.

The first games are supposed to be played on Sept. 4, more than three weeks from now, which means the decision doesn’t have to be made right now, although there isn’t much sand left in the hour glass.

Earlier, the Georgia High School Association pushed everything back two weeks and canceled the preseason games, but as of now the season is still on, and my hope is that doesn’t change.

The #letthemplay hash tag has been trending on Twitter, and it’s a sentiment I fully endorse, for players in high school, and college.

These players want to be out there, they want to be with their brothers, and here’s hoping they get that opportunity.