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ALBRIGHT: Maybe it is time to brace ourselves, just in case

Friday nights without the lights and empty stadiums? Sounds like horrible no-good very-bad days, doesn’t it?

But the scenario may soon come to pass.

Sadly, 2020’s firm grasp tightens daily on the award for the most horrible no-good very-bad year. COVID-19’s rampage continues to leave nothing but broken plans and lost promises in its wake.

Around the nation, states face the increasing liklihood of another lost sporting season for seniors.

Texas, yes, Texas recently announced delays of one month for the start of the football and volleyball seasons. Virginia’s three proposals for the 2020-21 sports calendar have none of them starting football in the fall. One plan features no chances at all for gridiron glory.

Hard to believe? Yes, but wait there’s more.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association’s puzzling decision leaves the option of sports up to each school. California pushing back all fall sports to winter leaves football barely on the table.

It is encouraging to see contingency plans. These choices of postponing instead of canceling sports outright make one thing clear: Everyone involved in making these decisions want kids returning to school and participating in athletics in 2020.

Keep one important thing in mind here, though: these are all best-case scenarios.

COVID-19 would care less about any of these plans.

It is on its own timetable and has taken more than a little advantage of our federal government offering up of the United States as a breeding ground.

Now, due to the vitality of the disease, the once unthinkable could become reality — no high school football or any sport in West Virginia. Ohio, Virginia and Kentucky all border the Mountain State and while the Bluegrass State awaits an announcement on the upcoming athletic season, a recent coronavirus case surge in Kentucky sent W.Va. Gov. Jim Justice and his team into a panic. Ohio and Virginia aren’t exactly flattening the curve, either.

All these developments lead to scary occurrences on more than just a daily basis.

People regularly crossing any border for work or leisure may be bringing or may have already spread the disease throughout our southern and northern counties.

The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission plans to hold a full sports slate in the fall, but what happens if the worst-case scenario becomes reality?

COVID-19 cases climbing in our home, especially the heavily populated urban areas in our northern and southern parts of the state, means the more people travel for sports the more the opportunity for the disease to spread.

Sports as we know, especially football and soccer, offer a perfect place to spread the disease. Once it infects one player or coach, especially if no one knows, then schools and communities become fair game. Bubbles similar to the NHL’s and NBA’s only work if no one contracts the disease. Afterward it is largely open season as leagues are forced to shut down again. Remember, we don’t have a bubble or access to the same resources as professional sports teams. All we have are our masks. We all know how well that is going over, too.

Rising numbers, some among the highest in the nation, bring us closer and closer to another shutdown.

If that happens there’s no point in trying to begin any season. Kids will get sick, the disease will spread, schedules will be thrown into chaos and no one will have fun.

Do I want to see that?

No.

I want high school sports. Fans want high school sports. Every player desires a chance to get on the field. WVSSAC Executive Director Bernie Dolan and his team are doing everything they can to make sure the quietness of this past spring doesn’t reflect itself in the mirror of the fall season.

Local schools depend on the revenue from the pigskin sport. Some kids need the structure of an after-school extra-curricular activity as the impetus for going to school and completing their schoolwork.

Maybe we’ll get lucky and get a few games in? It is possible.

Jordan Holland, Jay W. Bennett and I are preparing for a full-steam-ahead push toward the start of the regular seasons on Aug. 24, Sept. 3 and Sept. 4.

Just looking at the big picture isn’t an encouraging canvass going forward toward Wheeling and the Super Six.

That is to say if any games kick off at all.

I strongly suggest everyone swallows their pride and does the right thing for his or her neighbor, regardless if you want to or not. Making sure West Virginia is ready to welcome back sports falls on all of us like Dolan said earlier this month.

Wear masks, people. Wash your hands. Be vigilant and stay away from large gatherings.

Or else maybe it is time to start bracing ourselves for the inevitable, darkened and empty fields.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.

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