ALBRIGHT: W.Va. Governor Jim Justice is now out of excuses when it comes to high school sports

It has been a very enlightening 48 hours for high school sports fans across West Virginia.

Turns out there can be large gatherings in the midst of this “tsunami” of a pandemic — if, of course, they are profitable for the governor.

Jim Justice might have been talking and walking tough when it comes to COVID-19 and athletics, but he’s doing neither as it pertains to capitalistic endeavors. If there’s money to be made, you can count him in.

High school athletes’ desires to return to the court or the mat or pool apparently don’t matter to him, his top priority is clear. How weak, but also, hopefully, beneficial for high school sports.

In case you don’t know what is going on, here’s an update:

On Friday evening, an Instagram video from the user sunnysidebullpen surfaced on Twitter. Shown in it, a room at The Greenbrier Resort is packed to the brim with partygoers celebrating on New Years Eve. No social distancing rules were being followed, and there was minimal effort made in adhering to the mask protocol. In fact, it was optional. Champagne also was available and everyone looked to be having a good time.

At the same time the party was happening, many athletes and parents, according to Twitter, spent New Years Eve at home so as not to go out and contract the coronavirus – a much more admirable decision than the one made by our governor. All the while, the people at the Greenbrier may have further spread the virus.

How nice?

Not really.

The video has since raced into public knowledge where it has circulated for the last few days. Of course, hiding something like this in the age of the internet borders on nearly impossible. Parents and kids, as expected, were outraged at the lack of consideration for their struggles and current situation.

And now Justice has a big problem on his hands: He just surrendered the only bullet left in his gun.

Yes, the most concerning picture among the disaster was the unusual and sudden inconsistency after he threatened to arrest people who wouldn’t wear masks; Indoors in a restaurant, wear a mask until you get to the table. Indoors at any other establishment, keep your mask on. At my hotel for a party, don’t worry about it.

Wait, what?

Also, so much for not being able to have high school sports.

After he built up so much goodwill publicly fighting this virus, that’s all gone now. Or it should be. By allowing festivities to happen at his resort after he recently said, “I just don’t see any way we can be in gymnasiums right now,” anything and everything coming out of his mouth gets immediately undercut – and quite dramatically, too.

All credibility vanishes. Excuses fall by the wayside as insincere and illogical – in every way, shape, form and fashion. When everyone finally gets a hold of this, things are going to hit the fan all over again. West Virginians arrived with anger over his most recent delay of sports and this choice likely revved that anger up to a ten.

This is the one thing he probably couldn’t afford to have happen. Too many people being solidly invested in sports in this state means this isn’t going to slide. It was the worst case scenario he possibly could have walked into to start the year. Something even more damaging than the Woodrow Wilson’s girls basketball team debacle.

There’s not enough champagne in the Greenbrier to wash that down.

Speaking of basketball, how can he now look his Greenbrier East girls’ basketball team in their faces and tell them he did his best to give them a season after this stunt?

He can’t.

How in the world can he be trusted to do what is best for all athletes any longer when he can’t tell his own hotel to follow the guidelines?

He can’t.

How can the WVSSAC be kept out of the loop any longer?

It can’t.

How can Justice say ANY gathering of maybe 30 people in gyms across the state is a problem?

He can’t.

The way those people were packed into that tiny room in Greenbrier County defies the logic that it is harmful to have only a third of that population together in a much bigger and open environment. It just isn’t possibly conceivable, any of it.

This all just smells funny.

Something proved clear, however. One robin may not make spring, but we can all agree one choice just put Justice out of excuses when it comes to high school sports.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.


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