I love high school football as much as the next guy or gal.
I’m the radio voice of South Lafourche High School, and every weekend, I co-host a talk-radio show on ESPN Radio focused specifically on high school sports. Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m a mainstay at not just varsity games, but also JV/freshman games and even practices.
It’s my favorite time of the year, because I love to mingle with the guys and coaches. Seeing the players grow stronger and more confident is so fulfilling and uplifting.
But right now, I’m just not sure that the chosen path forward set by the LHSAA is going to work out, as much as I wish I could say different.
Yesterday, the LHSAA released a memo saying that high school football camps are able to open on August 3, as scheduled.
They outlined their full, detailed plan for how the sport will be able to proceed, detailing what is and isn’t allowed in each phase and specifically how things will look when camps re-open.
That is a great thing, something we’ve been waiting to see for weeks, and I applaud the LHSAA on its transparency in releasing a formal, concrete plan for coaches to follow.
But there’s a problem in that plan, and to me, it’s a fatal problem: consistency and competitive balance.
In an average high school athletic year, everyone is on even footing. All summer camps start at the same time; all fall camps open at the same time and school roughly starts around the same date for everyone involved.
By the time Week 1 rolls around, there’s no excuses. You’re either ready or you’re not. And if you’re not ready, then it’s the fault of your own, because everyone had the same opportunities to prepare.
But this year, things are a whole heck of a lot different.
This year, that uniformity is gone and because of that, I think the LHSAA has to be extremely cautious with how it moves forward with its athletic re-opening.
Right now, there’s a very real chance that Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes will be among many others in the state in not allowing athletic activities before camps open on August 3.
And some school districts have shut down workouts and other things throughout the summer at various times.
To expect Team A (who may not have been shut down at all at any point in the summer or fall) to face Team B (who may have been locked out of their facilities almost the entire pandemic) in a non-district game is unrealistic, unfair and, quite frankly, not safe, given the intense contact in the sport.
To combat this, I think the LHSAA should strongly consider moving the start of the 2020 football season back to allow more time for teams to catch up. Let’s start games in mid-to-late September.
Sure, we can’t make up for lost time, but we can give teams more time to get in shape, learn their systems and, oh yeah, to also further perfect their coronavirus protocols, too (something we didn’t talk about in this column, but which could be its own column entirely).
I’m all for high school football, but the integrity and competitive balance of the sport must remain in tact.
So postpone the start of the season, give teams more time to get ready and let’s do this the right way.
That — and let’s hope for Phase 4, too, because without that, there’s no football, anyway.
But that, too, is another column for another day.