Gov. Tate Reeves has the ability to be what he calls “an honest broker.”
He often tells it like it is during his afternoon press briefings, but during Tuesday’s presser, when it came to the question of high school and college athletics, particularly high school football, he could not provide clear answers.
For starters, he told the press and those watching over social media that no decision has been made as of yet on an executive order regarding high school football.
Unelected State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs was a little more forthright, stating that he did not foresee a situation where there would be mass fans in the stands at any level this fall, based on current COVID-19 numbers.
Some school districts are making it easy on the governor. Neighboring school districts in Washington and Leflore Counties have announced plans to cancel fall athletics, including football.
Sunflower County will make its decision on Tuesday.
Canceling football is not a popular move, so don’t expect the governor, a master politician, to move quickly on this.
In fact, Reeves was slow to move on signing an executive order delaying the reopening of schools. One week after the Sunflower County Consolidated School District announced plans to go completely virtual for the first nine weeks, the governor signed an executive order delaying the start of grades 7-12 in several counties, including Sunflower.
Pretty safe move.
Reeves is probably hoping that the majority of school districts make the athletics decision themselves so that he doesn’t have to. Perhaps the Mississippi High School Activities Association will make the call, but that doesn’t seem likely right now.
Reeves says that he believes strongly in local control, that is of course unless there are 200 new coronavirus cases within a two-week span.
Not to beat him up about his mask and social gathering mandates, but Reeves is the one who laid the groundwork for the inevitable cancellation of fall sports.
If he’s going to ignore local control when it comes to making people wear masks and limiting gatherings, he should have to bear some of the fallout from canceling sports.
He shouldn’t be able to pick and choose which situations he involves himself in and which ones he does not.
If he can delay the start of school, he could certainly delay the start of football season, or even cancel it altogether.
Instead, some school districts are canceling, some are scrambling to fill out a limited schedule and others are waiting to see how many of their opponents will be left after local control runs its course.
Everybody wants to see football played, from parents to fans, but there’s more to it than that.
Football in Mississippi is an economy unto itself.
There’s a lot of money riding on football season. Vendors and booster clubs rely on the revenue, and so do our local shops.
The not knowing is agonizing, and it hurts anyone who has to plan around the sport during the fall.
Earlier this summer, the threat of losing post-season athletics forced the Legislature and governor to change the state flag.
As of right now, the once seemingly impossible task of changing the flag might end up being easier than canceling football statewide.