Nashville Tennessee is a football city and anyone who might dispute that hasn't taken a look around town. As home to the NFL's Tennessee Titans, Vanderbilt and Tennessee State Universities, along with 13 public and nine private high schools who offer football as an extracurricular activity.
On any given weekend during a typical fall weekend, fans of football can find a game on Friday, Saturday, and ten Sundays when the Titans are at home during the pre and regular season. So it's safe to say that there is a passion, and football is an integral part of the culture and life in the city and region.
While the Titans and college football might garner more attention and bigger headlines, for the majority of people in this area, high school football is every bit the equal or greater part of their love of the sport. It's the purest form of the sport where the majority of its athletes play for the love of the games, competition, a sense of commaradery or just school and community spirit.
The lessons kids can learn on the football field extend beyond just blocking, tackling, and the x's and o's associated with the strategies of the game.
In recent days the city of Nashville and their mayor have chosen to take away the season from these highs chool programs, causing an uprising inside the Nashville community, and the region where these teams compete.
While Nashville is not the only city in the country not playing, it is the one I live closest to. It's in the heart of a state where the other counties around them, including other major cities like Knoxville are allowing their teams to play.
With the premis of the coronavirus is the underpinning of this decision, there appears to be more behind what we have witnessed play out in recent days. However, diving into supposition and speculation here would be pointless and a waste of time and bandwidth.
Regardless of the reason, and with respect to thosew who support the cancellation of the seaosn, along with those who support it, there are some innocent victims here who need football.
Like any city its size, Nashville has some lower income areas where many of this years senior class of athletes live. Places like Glencliff, Pearl-Cohn, Antioch, Maplewood, and Stratford are proud comminuties with many fine people who for whatever reason are financially disadvantages. Their children, while loved and cared for don't have the means to do as others their age who live outside the Davidson County line are afforded.
Football for many of these young men- and some women- are their only outlet of an activity that gives them structure, discipline and on some cases keeps them off the streets. It's also the only outlet some of the young people have towards a higher education.
College football recruiting is big business, and while the majority of these kids will never see the inside of an NFL stadium as a player, their participation in high school football can change the trajectory of their lives forever.
As someone who has been involved in high school sports for more than 30 years, I've seen first hand the difference having football has made in the lives of many young men. No, football can't save everyone. There have been those who played and still chose the wrong path.
But for those who chose wisely and too advantage of what the game afforded them, their lives have been far different than others from the same streets.
Metro Nashville and those who are in charge of her have a tough job. I don't envy them their responsibilities, however, what this decision is doing to hundreds of current high school seniors i painful to watch.
Why is it not as painful for the juniors, sophomores and freshmen who are also missing the season?
Those kids have more time, time for another season or more and a chance to show their talents. The seniors have had their last chance ripped away from the them. Some of them could see their dreams of a better future going with this season, and that's the shame of this whole thing.
There will be some who read this and say that the leaders made the right decision in protecting the health and safety of the players in this decision. While that might be true today, at what cost to the futures of some of these kids will it be worth it in 20 years?
There's far more at stake here than today, and those in power who have made these decisions have seemingly failed to take these factors into consideration.
As a fan of high school football, there's not much I can do as a non-resident of Nashville, but I can offer this and my sincere apology to these players who are being hurt in a way I can't fully imagine.
Hopefully somehow all the hopes and drems of all these young men and women will somehow still come true. You deserve it and more!