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JJ SAYS: St. Vincent starting football conditioning right

The St. Vincent High School football team is doing things right.

St. Vincent started football conditioning and limited drills last week, following a long list of protocols developed by attorney Austin Bosarge, head coach Trent Herzog and the St. Vincent staff. The St. Vincent plan generally follows guidelines from the National Federation of High School Athletics. The plan has been given county approval.

It should be noted that both Petaluma and Casa Grande have asked for permission to begin conditioning using essentially the same protocols, but have been denied by the Petaluma City Schools District. The school district’s decision is understandable. Since there is no classroom activity, not even in-class summer school, the reluctance of the district to allow school sanctioned athletic activity can be understood.

St. Vincent is, of course, a private school and can make independent decisions.

I’m not going to debate the right or wrong of whether or not to allow any kind of sporting activity anywhere in a world that is still under siege by a relentless adversary. I see valid debate points on both sides after strict shelter-in-place requirements put a major hurt on the local economy just as did to towns and cities nationwide.

At the same time, athletes need to be athletic. If you believe in the benefits of sports and lessons to be learned from participation and understand what it means to be part of something bigger than yourself, you understand how frustrating not being able to play really is.

Is it right to practice? Is it right to play games? I don’t have an answer. That’s not a cop out, it’s the truth. I firmly believe, to steal a quote from one of the many coaches I’ve talked to about this topic, “The only thing I know is that I don’t know.”

What I do know is that if one team is going to play by the rules, all teams should play by the rules. The St. Vincent football team is going above and beyond to play by the rule. I’ve seen it with my own aging eyes.

I also know that two of Petaluma’s three Little Leagues are practicing, even though they are now yet allowed to play any games. I have heard mixed reports of how well they are doing adhering to the safety protocols. I have not seen any practices myself.

However, my eyes have peered through increasingly strengthening lens at baseball and softball teams practicing with no thought or effort at precautions. I’ve seen pick-up volleyball games with players happily playing away with no effort made at any kind of precautions.

It isn’t a matter of one team or group willing to risk their own health and well being. It is a matter of them risking the health and well being of their friends, neighbors and people they have never met.

It is also a matter of fairness. Sports have rules. Right now, society has rules. You may not like the rules, but if you are going to play, you have to play by the rules. St. Vincent and the Little Leagues are playing by the rules. So should everyone else.

(Contact John Jackson at johnie.jackson@arguscourier.com)

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