“Let Them Play!”
That’s the rallying cry for folks who want Maine kids to be able to play fall sports this year.
The “Let Them Play Fall Sports in Maine” Facebook page has racked up almost 9,000 members in barely a week.
They have held rallies in Augusta. It’s an impressive grassroots effort that has a lot of momentum.
And as much as I may agree with the “Let them play” sentiment, I’m sorry to say there’s no way it’s going to happen.
The Maine Principals’ Association and the athletic administrators in our state have busted their butts trying to figure out a way to have high school athletes safely take to the field this fall.
Later this week they’ll announce their plans as schools reopen this and next week.
And the “Let Them Play” campers will not be happy.
Let’s start with the obvious. There will be no high school football this fall. Zero probability. Donald Trump making out with Nancy Pelosi is more likely.
Most likely the MPA will offer football in the spring, the same as Massachusetts, which only will allow “low and moderate risk sports” during the fall season.
Higher risk sports, including football, will play during a “floating season” to take place in the spring. I am sure Maine will offer a similar plan.
As for the other sports, the final decision lies with superintendents in each district. A local high school athletic director tells me he would be shocked if schools in Cumberland and York counties are allowed to compete.
Camden Hills in Rockport and Deer Isle-Stonington have already said no fall sports. Many others will follow.
Just ask yourself this: How can so many school departments tell students they are only safe in class two days a week but have them on the field five or six days per week? How can they ask kids to stay six feet or more apart in the building but go nose to nose and elbow to elbow on the fields? You just can’t.
Have them wear masks, you say? Have you tried to run up and down a soccer field or run a seam route with a mask on? Good luck.
Plus don’t overlook the world of litigation fear in which all school departments exist these days. We used to go to school in blizzards. Today a flurry closes school, mainly because of the threat of a lawsuit if anything bad happened on the commute.
Admins will have the same fear here if, heaven forbid, an athlete got sick and died.
That’s why even sports that could logically still take place, such as golf and cross country, probably won’t happen.
It’s heartbreaking for student athletes and their families. But right now the only real question is can we “let them play” this winter, not this fall.
Jeff Solari is the founder of the Maine Sports Chowdah, Maine’s only free, weekly sports email newsletter. He has been in sports media since he was 17 and is not shy with his opinions or perspective on the world of sports. The longtime sports broadcaster is a graduate of Mount Desert Island High School and the University of Southern Maine. Previous gigs included WLBZ-TV and WCSH-TV, host of “The Shootaround” talk radio show on WZON and stints with “Downtown” and “The Drive.” Solari has won more than 15 Maine Association of Broadcasters and AP broadcaster awards.