COLUMN: Hurdling obstacles to play

By SCOTT MIMS / Staff Writer

Organized sports in the year 2020 is no easy task. A pandemic, civil unrest and natural disasters all are creating hurdle after hurdle for a sports season that almost didn’t happen—and still may not come to completion, when it’s all said and done.

What’s more, it’s an election year and we are in the midst of perhaps the most polarizing political climate many of us can remember.

I’m not trying to be cynical, but you have to admit that 2020 has challenged us in nearly every conceivable way. This is also true in my attempts to cover high school football.

The first game I was scheduled to cover was canceled due to a case of COVID-19. Now whether you realize it or not, it’s easy to become conditioned to think negatively every time we hear about a positive test result or a new outbreak. But the more we test, the more we will be aware of the virus and the faster we can react—this is a good thing.

This is where it gets a little strange—I was scheduled to cover a different game, and I had my camera in hand and ready to go. On the way to the game, everything seemed fine. But then, out of nowhere, just yards from where I would have turned to enter the school grounds, “Kablam!”

It turned out to be a broken ball joint, which caused further damage as I guided my car out of traffic. One wheel was severely out of position and it was obviously going to be a major repair—and no football game. And to top it all off, it was raining. 2020 strikes again.

Or did it? Yes, we have a lot of fun with the memes, and we do that in many cases just to stay sane, but has 2020 really been that bad?

On a national scale, I would have to say, if you’ve followed the news cycle, it’s been pretty bad. The casualties of a raging pandemic are sobering news. And the protests and the stories behind them show that we still have a long way to go toward true equality.

Circle back to sports, and we can see a microcosm of what is happening in the world. Just as athletes inspire us with stories of beating the odds to win championships (remember binge watching “The Last Dance”?), we also react passionately to their behavior surrounding the issues of 2020. We often use sports as a gauge for normalcy—cardboard cutout fans in Major League Baseball stadiums? Yep, times are weird, no doubt.

But Thursday night, Aug. 27, I finally made it to my first high school football game of the year in Shelby County. As I walked onto the Cornerstone Christian campus, the aroma from the concession stand and the familiar sounds of the game made me feel a lot closer to normal than perhaps I have felt all year.

I pray for the safety of everyone involved with high school sports this year, from the head coach all the way down to the smallest fan. And my hope is that next year, we’ll be talking about COVID-19 in past tense.