Pleasanton Preps: Embracing the positives that the return of sports represent –

In some ways, it was as if we were back to normal, while on the other hand it was a stark reminder as to where we have been and how long we still must go.

Last Saturday was the first sense of normalcy I’ve felt in a long time. There were sports at Foothill High School, competitive sports — something that has been missing from the landscape since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the morning driving past Foothill, I saw cross-country runners from Amador Valley and Foothill racing in the front of the school.

It put a smile on my face, even with seeing the parent volunteers wearing their masks while covering spots on what had to be a new course.

In the afternoon when I arrived to announce both the junior varsity and varsity football games, there were baseball games between Foothill and De La Salle on both baseball fields.

The parents were spaced out in lawn chairs watching the action. Even though the weather was not perfect for sitting outside all afternoon, it was easy to see they were glad to be there.

Saturday night Livermore came to town to a pair of football games between the two schools. Seeing all the kids out on the field warming up, then playing a game was awesome.

Livermore won 14-13, but it wasn’t the score that mattered as much as the teams actually playing a game.

But there were also signs that we are not back to normal — yet.

Players on each team were given vouchers for their families, limiting the number of people that could attend. Looking out of the press box it was bizarre to see tape marks on the bleachers, where the families of each player were designated to sit.

The family members needed to arrive together and sit together. Each fan base was required to sit on their respective side of the field.

I have been handed many things to announce throughout the years, but following the junior varsity game, it was something different.

I was directed to ask the Livermore junior varsity parents to vacate the stands and leave the stadium immediately after the game. The request came from the Livermore High administration, who I believe was trying to clear out room for the varsity parents to come into the game.

It was the most awkward announcement I have ever made.

The football games were great to see, but the overall ambiance was nonexistent. No students, no cheerleaders and no band take away from what makes high school sports great — the overall experience.

That is the harsh reality as to where we still are during this pandemic.

While that is all missing, the alternative of not playing is far worse.

Even a shortened season with no standings or no playoffs, at least gives the seniors a chance to put on their school colors and get out on the field.

It gives the kids a chance to make some good memories from their last year in high school.

Returning all-sports — except for wrestling — to school at the same time provides logistical nightmares, but it seems the schools are working hard to make it all work.

Facility space aside, the hot-button item seems to be kids being able to play only one sport at a time.

Baseball and football seem to be the ones suffering the most as there are many players who enjoy both football and baseball but now must make a choice between the two.

My initial thoughts are that if the coaches of the respective sports agree to allow players to play both sports, then why not let them play rather than be forced to make a choice?

These are uncharted times, times no one has dealt with before, so there is no template to go by to make decisions.

I can understand parents being upset about their kids not being able to play more than one sport, but the more I have thought about it, kids being able to play any sports is the most important part.

Since last August, there has been a growing movement to let the kids play sports. Now that it has happened, it seems moving forward we should celebrate the kids playing sports, not asking for more.

Let’s embrace what time we have left this school year and be thankful the kids in our community are at least getting to compete.

Editor’s note: Dennis Miller is a contributing sports writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. To contact him about his “Pleasanton Preps” column, email [email protected]

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