Well, folks. Here we are in the final stretch of 2020. With everything that has transpired this year, it almost seems like an accomplishment to still be relatively okay at this point. It’s certainty a blessing, considering how many people have dealt with health problems and the cavalcade of other issues sickness leaves in its wake. But, here we are in October, which means it’s Fall, which - especially for those of us in the South, I dare say - means football.
For so long this year, I think we all watched with anxious anticipation as experts went back and forth on whether or not we would even have a football season in 2020. But, then the NBA successfully navigated its season inside “the bubble,” and baseball found its way back onto the diamond. But, football? It’s a contact sport. Would it be safe? No one seemed to know. Yet, even with late starts, sparse crowds and some serious COVID outbreaks in the NFL, here we are playing the most popular sport in America, and I think it’s helping morale; giving us a sense of normalcy and hope that everything will eventually be okay.
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m from Mobile, Alabama, and much like Louisiana, we are raised on football; taught pretty early on to love God, family and country, but to hate either Alabama or Auburn football. It’s a huge part of our culture, so the thought of not having a season was hard to come to terms with, especially when so many people desperately needed something positive to look forward to.
Thankfully, we have found a way, all over the country, to make college and professional football work. But, it’s just as important on the local level.
Last week, I had the opportunity to finally cover games at our local high schools. Because of the looming threat of Hurricane Delta possibly arriving last Friday, Madison High School took on rival General Trass Wednesday night, and Tallulah Academy faced Riverdale for homecoming Thursday night in the rain.
Unfortunately, both schools fell short in their games, but that’s okay. Both teams played their hearts out, and in the end, it really didn’t matter so much that the teams each recorded a loss. It was just nice to be under the lights on a fall night watching our young men slug it out on the gridiron; listening to the locals in the crowd cheer them on; taking in that familiar smell of grass and sweat. I ran up and down the sideline, fought off mosquitos (because, let’s face it: It may be October, but it’s still the South) and listened to the squishy noise of my own footsteps as I got soaked, along with the rest of the people on the sidelines without an umbrella.
It was great!
So, maybe we are a long way from being completely done with this pandemic. Maybe we do still have to deal with an election that has divided our country like never before. Maybe there are still a lot of things we will have to deal with in the coming months, and even years. But, for now, at least we can get together on Friday nights to cheer on our local student-athletes. At least we can gather in front of the TV together on Saturdays to watch our favorite college teams, or on Sundays or Monday night to watch the Saints, or whatever team you root for, play.
Sports can teach us a lot of important lessons, and football is my favorite sport. I can’t wait to enjoy the rest of the season. I can’t wait for the next home football game, so I can get back out on that sideline. I hope I’ll see you guys there!
Blake Bell is the editor and publisher of the Madison Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.