The Gray Area: Touchdowns or Breakouts?


Blake Catlett

THE GRAY AREA: TOUCHDOWNS OR BREAKOUTS? — Columnist Grayson Catlett looking out over the Pounders’ football field.

Grayson Catlett, Columnist

As the school year geared up for large structural changes regarding COVID-19, many students and parents had a burning question: what is happening to sports?

Sports have been a hot topic following the lock-downs, with no concrete answer on the right way to handle them. While some sports, like the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Football League (NFL), returned to playing with limited capacity and stricter health guidelines; others have cancelled, most notably several conferences in the National College Athletic Association (NCAA).

Hamilton County decided to follow the former protocol, allowing for football, volleyball, and soccer seasons to continue. New guidelines were obviously made to contain the spread of the virus, such as a one-third capacity and temperature checks before entry. However, there are no direct penalties to violating these restrictions; the county will merely “consider consequences” if a host school breaks either of the rules, according to a WRCB article in August.

After my previous column, which read into student and teacher opinions regarding Hamilton County’s transition to Phase Three, I wanted to see what our people have to say about the return of sports. Much like last time, the consensus was more one-sided than I expected.

The first person I asked was Senior Carmen Crabtree, who voiced staunch approval of the reopening. “I’m not really concerned with football continuing. I think sports are fine and should be played. I also don’t think football will cause an uptick in cases, it hasn’t in other sports either. Central is following safety guidelines as [well as] they can.”

Senior Elianna Evatt generally agreed with Crabtree: “I think the football games might cause an uptick, but as for now I think we have handled precautions well enough to not have an uproar of cases.”

Destiny Smith, a senior cheerleader, was more reserved in her response.

“I personally only have concerns about how close people are to each other while at the games,” she replied. “I also see a lot of people not keeping their masks on because it can get hot throughout the game, so it is just interesting to see.” Despite this criticism, she applauded Central’s efforts to maintain safety guidelines. “I think [they have] handled it to the best of their ability.”

The last subject, teacher Duncan Kelley, explained more mixed feelings approaching the season.

“I was very concerned when the season started… I thought it would last one week, and the numbers would explode and everything would be cancelled. I was wrong. I am pleasantly surprised that high schools can play and not risk infecting the players.”

“I think Central High has handled the outbreak very well,” Kelley continued. “It helps that the majority of our students are online, but we have done an excellent job of wearing masks and socially distancing, and I think that has made a difference.”

It seems as if the worry about COVID-19 at football games has dissipated. With a flattened curve in Hamilton County, it is not too surprising that people are wanting to return to normalcy after six months of lock-downs and guidelines. If that be the case, we can only hope that our Pounders can do well at their games. In a divisive and volatile year, a hard-working team can unite students, parents, and teachers in pride of our school.