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High School Football Will RGV live to regret football season?

I get it. People love high school football. They either love to play it, or watch their kids/grandkids play it. So, it’s no wonder that many people in the Rio Grande Valley are anxious for this season to start, despite this lethal pandemic blowing in the wind.

Personally, for me, playing high school football was once more important than doing my homework. Thankfully, I grew up in a time when one’s grades weren’t tied to whether or not one could play organized sports at the high school level. The coach didn’t care if I ever studied. He just cared if I could still run with a twisted ankle. Priorities.

I’m not one of those macho guys who always has to be right. I never mind admitting I was wrong. This probably comes from a life lived by getting most things wrong. I seldom expect to be right. About anything. When I am, it’s cause for celebration.

This pandemic, however, has been one of the few exceptions when I’ve been right about most aspects of how it continues to play out. When we were told the SARS-CoV-2 virus would be gone by Easter, you had to be chomping down on some magic mushrooms to believe that story, I thought to myself. Then we were told that the COVID-19 deaths were going to peak at 60,000, then 80,000, and now we’ve topped 200,000. The summer heat will kill it, we were told. Everything we were told was proven wrong.

I heard a good joke the other day:

Patient to doctor: “Doc, how long will this coronavirus be around?”

Doctor to patient: “I don’t know. I’m not a politician.”

It doesn’t take a medical genius to know that the COVIDrelated mortality rates won’t stop climbing any time soon, because the virus has too many willing hosts to invade. So many people without facemasks hugging and kissing, talking up politics, who can stop its spread?

Just last week, a friend of mine said he saw about 16 guys, 20 years old, mas o menos, standing in a front yard in some local neighborhood, shoulder to shoulder, playing volleyball. No facemasks. Then he stopped by a restaurant, where a guy waiting for an order was leaning halfway inside the curbside delivery van with his facemask only covering his Adam’s apple. His mouth and nose were exposed. If he was infected with the virus, why not spread it around to the guy serving the food as well as other diners nearby?

Meanwhile, we wonder, why Hidalgo County’s mortality rate remains higher than many other parts of the state. Sure, people have to wear a facemask in public, practice social distancing, but when they have Saturday night BBQ in their backyard with friends and family, what happens then. “Pinché facemask. Break out the cerveza.” Or people mingle at South Padre; wherever large crowds can gather, they’re all in.

As it stands, high school football practice in the RGV is set to begin early next month for most local schools. Real scrimmage will begin toward the middle of October, with Oct. 23 now planned as the first real date for the regular season to begin. Other high school sports, girls Volleyball, for example, are set to begin play even sooner. Don’t yet know what the school districts have fully planned for fan attendance at stadiums.

If I was still in high school (no thanks), I’d no doubt be thinking, “Screw this virus, I’m playing football.” Like other mentally retarded people of my generation, I had visions of one day playing in the NFL. Now, as a parent or grandparent, would I be in favor of my kid or grandkid playing football? No. Not with COVID in the air. In fact, the RGV is still listed as one of the state’s viral hot spots with regard to deaths, not case counts. For those who don’t follow the news on a regular basis, the young here are also falling victim to the coronavirus, so the idea that young athletes won’t contract the virus has already proven wrong.

So, how in a world of alleged logic and reason, does it make any sense to line up 11 players on one side of the football, another 11 on the other, and blow the whistle for the clock to start? For those who have never played the game, football involves a lot of tackles where players pile on top of one another and blow spit and hot air (which includes viral particulates) in the faces of each other. In other words, the perfect environment for SARS-CoV-2 to infect kids who already don’t have it. Lot of body contact involved as well.

Have you seen the shape of colleges and universities today? Instead of beer parties at the frat house, most are under lockdown. Fun times.

Meaning, the time is not yet right to open up large venues where the young can gather, contract the virus, and then carry it back home to dad, mom, and the rest of the family.

That’s just my opinion, for what it’s worth.

“Your opinion ain’t worth (expletive), Wendorf. We want FOOTBALL. So why don’t you wind up a copy of the Advance, real tight, and stick it where the sun don’t shine. Here, let me help. Quit writing about the dangers of COVID.”

When you’re in the ICU, gasping for air, let me know how that’s working out for you. I’ll bring my copy of The Advance for you to read, provided all of those tubes don’t get in the way.

Truth is, in this country, we, I, value individual rights. Why I had such low regard for authority most of my life, but especially when I was younger. I mocked the seat-belt law for years, simply throwing it over my left shoulder but never buckling it in. Then the cops got wise, and I grew up to be more responsible, realizing that if I was in a car crash, my chances of survival were greater if I was wearing a seat belt.

Trouble is, we’ve never had a pandemic like this before. I don’t even think the Spanish Flu of 1918 can compare. Given that, I think the public’s right to good health outweighs the rights of any individual. This includes those who are in favor of starting up the high school football season this year in the RGV, especially Hidalgo County.

Playing high school sports this fall will only increase the COVID numbers here and put all of us more at risk. To believe that more kids won’t catch the virus, whether it’s on the gridiron or the volleyball court, is akin to believing the moon is made out of green cheese, or George W. Bush has a brain, or Bill Clinton has never cheated on Hillary.

Anyway, I hope I’m proven wrong, but I’d bet the words written in this column will be validated no more than a few weeks into this season. Let’s hope I’m wrong.

Stupid question perhaps, but if it’s not okay for kids to be a part of in-class instruction without maintaining social distancing, wearing a facemask, how is it okay to discard that while playing team sports?

Let it not be said that I don’t have a lot of sympathy and compassion for high school athletes, especially the seniors. No, life isn’t fair. The current situation does indeed suck. It’s better though, I think, to live a long life if at all possible, limit the odds that your parents or grandparents will die anytime soon. Playing team sports in today’s environment puts too many people at risk, in my opinion. Hard to argue that point, but apparently, my voice comprises the minority compared to school officials, elected and employed, who don’t want to upset the electorate, most of whom want the games to begin. So be it.

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