EVAN REN: UIL announcement promising, but are we out of the woods just yet?

“Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.”
— Elbert Hubbard

 In a Tweet released earlier today, the University Interscholastic League announced that it is actively working to allow schools to begin limited summer strength and conditioning and marching band activities on June 8. 

The mere sight of this announcement had me on the verge of challenging my 55-year-old frame to do a cartwheel for which it is ill-prepared to attempt. Because frankly, Texas without high school pigskin is like Texas without oxygen. 

The thought of its absence has been too bitter to contemplate. And in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve allowed myself to go down one rabbit hole after another — trying to discern information from disinformation, and political rhetoric from that which is concrete. 

With the UIL’s announcement, however, I’ve finally allowed myself to think there may be light at the end of this horrific tunnel. 

But is football out of the woods yet?

While every fiber of me hopes that’s the case, I’m still firmly entrenched in wait-and-see mode, spewing cautious optimism to mask the aroma of my own doubt.

Are we truly ready to put 10,000 people in a football stadium? Are we truly ready to absorb a second wave of this virus and the subsequent “blame game” that will no doubt follow in its wake? 

Frankly, I have my doubts, but I have a difficult time imagining Texas shutting football down. 

Before I came here, I heard prep football described as a religion in the Lone Star State — a notion that is quickly understandable for out-of-staters like myself, who have a frame of reference to compare it to. 

I can easily see high school football being delayed in my home state of Arizona, where sparse crowds in metal bleachers were common even at the 6A level.

But here? 

In Texas, football isn’t a game — it’s a doctrine. And if we are to shut it down completely, I can’t imagine what the public response would be, but it may involve torches and clubs.

Regardless of what happens, we have to be on the same page, and with all of the rhetoric flying around, that’s going to be a challenge. 

If we’re not all getting accurate information, how can we be uniform in our response? If half of us trust one source and the other half trust another, when will we reach a point when the turmoil fades? And at what point does a fear of dying begin to look like a fear of living?

Will rolling the dice and bulling ahead eventually force us all on to the same page? I have a feeling we’re about to find out, but I’m hopeful that grit and determination will win out.

It’s going to have to, sooner or later. 

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