‘It’s all about the kids.’
It’s a phrase we hear people say over, and over, and over again.
It’s a phrase we wonder if some people understand at all when we see how they act at sporting events.
If things stand the way they are now, it really will be all about the kids for Pennsylvania high school sports in the fall.
As of right now, the PIAA wants to start their season on time. As of right now, the state won’t allow fans to be in attendance for scholastic sporting events.
So, there is a chance there will be games in the fall, with no parents, no families, no friends in the stands.
It will be the kids. It will be the coaches. It will be the officials, and that’s all it will be.
As soon as that part of the PIAA’s announcement came out, people lost their minds. So much so that the PIAA the next day felt the need to clarify that it’s not their rule, it’s the states.
It’s understandable in a way. Families want to see their kids play.
There are people hoping for exceptions for parents, or families to see the kids play. Because mom and dad want to be in the stands to see their child compete.
And, it all makes sense. And, it’s all understandable.
At the same time, we have to remember that old saying, it’s all about the kids.
Right now, being able to play any sport is rare.
New York already pushed their fall season back. Virginia called off their high school fall season.
College conferences around the country have called off fall sports completely. Major college football just prays they can get some conference games in.
Pro sports has started back up, but who knows for how long? Major League Baseball seems to postpone as many games as they play these days, and the list of guys opting out of the NFL season includes some of the highest paid players on their teams.
Look at the toll that Covid is having on some regional sports. Watkins Glen International lost the NASCAR weekend as it got moved to Alabama. Now, the Six Hour weekend just got moved to Atlanta.
Two of the biggest weekends for Watkins Glen. Weekends that track, the town, that county rely on to bring in money are gone.
The idea that high school sports might happen in Pennsylvania should bring joy to people.
The idea of football games on Friday night. The thought of soccer games, and cross country races. The idea of some tennis and golf, and volleyball as athletes return to the sports they love.
We can picture it now. Timmy Ward back for the Canton Warriors. Returning after battling cancer, to join Ben Knapp and lead the Warriors to try and bring home a district title.
After everything that has happened since March, we would embrace the games with open arms.
We would cheer on the athletes. Cheer on the teams. We would be happy just to see them back.
There are still some hurdles to even get to that moment.
For every bit of hope the PIAA offers, we have to temper our excitement just a bit.
Can volleyball be played when currently only 25 people are allowed to gather at one time indoors? Just the two rosters of many teams would eclipse that?
Can sports be played if schools are in some sort of hybrid schedule, with no in-person teaching some days at some school?
The WPIAL, the biggest powerhouse conference in the state when it comes to football already announced that they wouldn’t start their seasons on time. They will use one of the models that allows them to start games in September, instead of August.
Other leagues could follow suit. School districts could decide this is all too much to try and make sports, and starting schools back up work.
And, of course, the state could come in at any time and shut the idea down and say no fall sports.
But, for every if. For every concern, there is hope.
There is a plan in place right now for athletes to be on the fields.
There is a plan that would allow Friday Night Lights this year, instead of more nights missing sports.
And, yes, the plan right now means no fans.
It means it will be just the kids, the coaches and the officials out there on that field.
It will leave parents angry, and sad.
And, it’s understandable.
But, we have to remember, ‘It’s all about the kids.’
It’s not about us getting a chance to watch games played. It’s not about what we will miss, or what we don’t get a chance to see.
If games are played, and kids get that chance to have some normalcy, we should be happy for them.
We can still be there biggest fans. Cheer them on before they go. Celebrate, or cry with them when they return.
There are a million ways to be fans, without being at games.
There are a million ways to support the athletes, without screaming at the top of our lungs on Friday nights.
We always say it’s all about the kids, and now is the time we have to show we mean that.
We can be sad that things won’t be normal. We can be sad that we can’t be at games. We can be sad for what is lost.
But, we have to rejoice if the kids get on the field.
Right now, so few athletes anywhere are getting the chance to compete.
If the kids get to play, we should celebrate, because that’s what it’s really about.
Brian Fees is the sports editor of The Daily & Sunday Review. Contact him at email@example.com