Hope is beautiful.

False hope is cruel.

What we saw Friday was false hope running full speed into hard, unforgiving reality. And it sucks., The Maine Principals’ Association’s football committee announced it could not recommend a spring football season to make up for the lack of a fall season in 2020, It was a decision that was not surprising. But so many people had clung to that hope with a white knuckle grip ever since the football season was scuttled on Sept. 10, and they saw that hope snuffed out like a candle. That grip didn’t gradually relax. It was hit with a hammer so it let go with a cry of pain. And that is cruel.

We’re entering month 12 of this pandemic. Month 12 of diminishing returns on every expectation. We ask over and over, can’t I have this one thing? Just one small thing? And the universe says no. We get that life is not fair. It feels as if life is taking pleasure in that fact.

The reasons given for abandoning the spring season idea make sense. There’s not a high school in the state that could absorb a spring football season without adversely affecting traditional spring sports like baseball, lacrosse, track and field, or tennis. Each of those sports would see defections to football, or football would see smaller turnout because of spring commitments. Spring sports already lost a complete season in 2020. We ask spring teams to pay the freight again?

There’s also a consideration that goes beyond simple logistics. Football is still in the high risk category in the state’s ranking of sports in this time of COVID-19. State officials have shown no inclination that a revision of that list is coming.

These are issues that existed last fall, when the carrot of a spring season was dangled. It should have been made more clear that a spring season was a longshot.

There’s that false hope again.

It’s hard, if not impossible, to find anyone in authority in Maine making any decision surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic maliciously. It’s a crisis without a playbook. When it comes to how the state has handled sports, from the youth levels to high school, it’s hard to find any leadership in Augusta that has acted transparently. Leadership has alternately told the MPA it needs to review decisions, then shoveled heaps of blame on the MPA’s door whenever there has been public backlash. Passing the buck is not leadership.

When you feel betrayed by your leaders, you don’t want to hear any of that. You want answers. You see sports like basketball and ice hockey being played indoors, and you know to call either of those non-contact sports is ridiculous. Football is played outside. The contact in football can be intense, but it’s in short bursts. The longer your questions are met with no answers, the more frustrations boil.

For a small number of players who missed their senior season of football and cheering, there could be a Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl this summer. Maybe. If the risk level is lowered. Otherwise, we’re looking at cancelling the game that has done so much good for Shriner’s hospitals for children for a second straight year.

For the majority of seniors, it’s over. Dumb luck made them a senior during the worst pandemic in a century. It’s random and frustrating. We hope they find positive outlets for that frustration and anger.

We also know hope is brittle, and when it breaks, it often breaks for good.

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: