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Dear H.S. football folks: Cope with the word 'no'

News item: Roughly 1,000 high school football players from 40 different schools Wednesday rallied outside the Capitol in protest of their fall season in peril.

The idealist would perhaps applaud their swing at civil disobedience.

The pessimist would pray they wore masks and stayed six feet apart, what with this pesky pandemic and all.

And then there's the realist who would likely lose his or her sunny disposition at the tone deafness. Or maybe feel a little sorry for their upbringings in a culture perfectly petrified of the word "no."

"'No' is a complete sentence," author Sharon Rainey wrote once. "It does not require an explanation to follow."

Sharon shoots, Sharon scores.

Sometimes, you just get told no. And you must — underrated word of the day coming here — cope.

Because high school football players, their morally outraged parents and others perpetuating provocation in a pandemic have had their Warholian 15 minutes. You have been heard. Thanks for sharing. Now don't let the doorknob leave a lasting impression.

This just in: We are in a pandemic. More than 190,000 people are dead. And the idea that Glen from Glastonbury's real or perceived football scholarship might be imperiled at the moment is patently irrelevant to that little detail known as a health crisis.

It's clear most of the kids protesting haven't been taught this at home. This is a health crisis. No, really. And the reason some aggrieved folks are acting like it's a rumor here in Connecticut is that Gov. Ned Lamont and his team have applied the concept of prudence to appropriate levels of leadership. We have a reasonable handle on the virus because we have not allowed congregation such as — let's use a wild example here — 11 on 11 football.

How is this not patently obvious?

But then, maybe it's only obvious to the people who have been told no occasionally in their lives. We are better balanced.

Sometimes, you just get told no. You don't have to like it. You may disagree. Free country. But the very definition of a false dilemma is the idea a bunch of kids can't play football with 190,000 others dying.

As a colleague pointed out Thursday, "I cannot imagine where high school football players would have gotten the impression that they and their sport are so important. It's not like our culture hasn't raised them from the day they were old enough to pick up a football to think that theirs is both the most important sport, and the most important aspect of our entire culture over anything else."

Gov. Lamont has invited the CIAC and the Department of Public Health to meet again Friday. I get why. He's trying to appease the masses. I just don't see DPH officials changing their stance. It's called the truth above the roar. We just don't know enough about COVID at the moment to act any other way than prudently. That means no football.

Yet it doesn't mean no football. The governor and the CIAC's own state football committee have proposed moving football — for one year only — to the second semester. We have enough forward thinkers to plot a season that fits between winter and spring sports, likely moving the start of spring sports back to accommodate multi-sport athletes.

To reiterate: Football in the second semester is one-time only, the byproduct of a pandemic. It's not a regular season, but an irregular season, this requiring resourcefulness, creativity and patience.

No, we have no idea what life will look like in February. But giving science more time is the far better option than 22 football players breathing on each other in close proximity — especially when COVID cases have already popped up at Middletown High, Valley Regional, Naugatuck, Newington and Shelton.

We are all aware of the gifts high school sports give us. They're not necessarily home runs or touchdowns. They are the small moments of grace — inside jokes in the locker room, singing on happy bus rides home and the thousand little other memories that resonate 30 years later. Perspective, however, bestows some common sense into the equation. They are a privilege, not a birthright.

You still may have a season. In 2021. For now, quit the protesting. There are 190,000 grieving families who might view it as a bit churlish and uncaring.

Sometimes, you just get told no. Cope as best you can.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro


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