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athletic support by eli cranor

Athletic Support: College football cancelled but my son’s still playing

Dear Athletic Support:
We’re rolling into the third week of the high school football season here in Arkansas, and all across the country, there are college athletes who aren’t playing at all. That doesn’t make sense to me. My sister lives in Louisiana (home of the defending National Champion LSU Tigers!) and they still haven’t started their high school football season. Seems like over half the colleges have cancelled or postponed football until the spring. All this brings me to last Friday night. Sitting up in the stands, watching my son take the field, I had the strangest sensation wash over me. It felt like we were the only ones left in the ocean, swimming with sharks darting all around. Like the lifeguard was blowing his whistle but we just wanted to play so bad, we couldn’t hear him. I mean, I guess it hasn’t been that crazy so far. A few surrounding schools have had to “forfeit” (I’m not sure that’s the right word) games after having players test positive for COVID. But other than that, it’s just been football, and masks, and preordering tickets before the games, and sitting spaced out in the bleachers… Who am I kidding, it’s been really weird! But is it dangerous? Am I putting my son at risk by letting him play? That’s what I want to know.

— Corona Ball

Dear Corona: Football is a dangerous sport. If this were any other year, I’d be answering questions about concussions, heat illness, and all sorts of other issues that come along with a full-contact game. Instead, I’m discussing states allowing teenagers to play ball despite a deadly, worldwide pandemic.

And let me be very clear: I’m not condemning or condoning the continuation of high school football this fall. I’m just stating the facts.

And the facts are that there’s some serious stuff floating around in the air. Serious enough to have cost us nearly 200,000 American lives.

Another fact, however, is that football is important, especially in the South. It’s more than just touchdowns and game-winning drives. Some towns’ entire cultures and economic centers revolve around Friday night.

But at what point do the possible health risks outweigh everything else?

Well, lucky for us, Corona Ball, we live in America. And we get to choose what we’re comfortable with, the same way each state was given a choice about what to do with football this fall.

Truth is, there’s no way to know the right answer. If you ascribe to conspiracy theories, you’re liable to end up letting politics get in the way and cloud your vision. Don’t do that. Don’t believe something as pure as high school or college athletics — amateur sports — could be tainted in that way. Have faith in the ones who’ve had to make the hard decisions, and remember there are no right answers.

All you can do is go with your gut. What feels right for you and your son in this moment? It might change from day to day. And that’s okay.

Outside of athletics, kids’ brains are also at risk. Who knows what sort of impact virtual learning will have on their cognition and critical thinking skills. In this regard, I offer one simple tool — a good book! And luckily, I know just the book for kids struggling with the shift to virtual learning:


books make brainz taste badOkay, you caught me… I’m the author of this book. It was published last week and awarded a #1 New Release ranking on Amazon. BMBTB deals directly with the same topic covered in this column, except in a much more lighthearted, kid-friendly way (zombie teachers and brain-munching screens!)

If you end up purchasing this book for your children or grandchildren, I only have one final suggestion — ask them to read it while standing up!

Eli Cranor's new book Books Make Brainz Taste Bad has just been released. ZOMBIES HATE BOOKS! Especially the zombie teachers at Haven Middle School. That's why they're using VR headsets to fry kids' brainz. Luckily, Dash Storey knows how to save his classmates from the zombie teachers—BOOKS! They make brainz taste bad!

"Eli Cranor has an almost unbeatable advantage. He can remember how it felt to think like a twelve-year-old and he can see the very same events like the adult he is. Don't try to resist this book!"
- Jack Butler, Pulitzer-Prize nominated author

Previous Athletic Support Columns:
Shift to virtual learning causing lag in young athletes
What you look for, you will find
Back to school woes
Football guidelines a breeze compared to band
What to do if your season stalls
Left behind
Travel ball leads to constipation
Collegiate sports for fun or money?
No right answer
Sunburns not part of the game
Summertime soreness
Vulnerability is key in uncertain times
Sick of COVID-19
Racial tensions rise as sports gear up again
Silver lining for post pandemic sports
Wearing masks to practice
Coach disappears after season is cancelled
What happens to the team if a player gets COVID-19?
Will there be football in the fall?
With sports gone, son’s grades tanking
Lost without sports
Teddy bears and tessellations
Cornavirus? We’ve got games to play!
Girlfriend getting in the way
A parent’s role when sports are over
Talk to your grandkids, carefully
At what age should sports stop being fun?
What ever happened to going door to door?
Lack of respect for track
Should my son take supplements?
I need your help
Help! My daughter wants to play football
Transferring to a smaller school: the good, the bad, and the ugly
What’s that smell? It’s not as bad as you think
A break from school but not from sports
Should a coach pray with his team?
Coach tells player not to shoot
Do nice guys (and girls) really finish last?
Coach cancels post-season awards banquet
No cellphones in the locker room!
Fake scholarship signing?
Withholding football as punishment
Sick and tired of losing
Late bloomer, a blessing or a curse?
Scholarship hopes dead, now what?
Is my son a butterfly chaser?
Don’t force sports on your kids
Hunting or Football?
Beat the Heat
Idle Hands
Coach’s son gets special attention

Published September 5, 2020

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