This is my first column, in what I hope will be a weekly endeavor. My radio show, Bump and Run, airs weekday mornings on Fox Sports AM1400 and 98.3 FM in Spartanburg, is first and foremost a sports talk show. However, we do things a little differently. We advertise ourselves on talking sports and stuff. Stuff can be anything from television show and movies to video games, and food. One segment we may talk football the next we may be taking about the new-est Netflix series. That is what I hope this column will be. Sometimes I may talk sports, some-time it may be stuff, and sometimes it may be a mixture of both. I just hope each time you read it you either learn something or are entertained. Maybe both.
Recently, almost every day somebody stops me, texts me, or tweets me to ask me the same question. “Are we going to have football this year?” I usually respond with a simple, “I sure hope so!” Sometimes they are asking about college football, but more recently the growing number of people asking me about this have been asking because of high school football.
Hosting a daily radio sports talk show, people assume that I am “in the know” when it comes to all things sports. Talking with coaches and athletic directors often I am sometimes, keyword sometimes, more in tune with what is going on than just your average Joe. I do often see schedules and know about things going on with teams before a lot of folks find out. At our radio station, we pride ourselves on our high school coverage. We talk to all the coaches, athletic directors, and players that we can to be knowledgeable about our local teams. I say all that to say this, before this past week, we had no idea whether we would play this fall or not, and in all honesty as of right now I am still not sure.
Last week the South Carolina High School League Executive Committee met to discuss this very issue. There was a proposal from Lexington County to move football season, and other high risk sports seasons, to the spring, and play low risk sports like baseball in the fall. This proposal was voted down by the league. The second proposal came from the League’s Commissioner, Jerome Singleton. This proposal is the one that the Executive Committee adopted and I will outline below.
As of right now, the start date for fall sports practice will be August 17th. The original start date was July 31st. One week prior to the August 17th start date a review will be made to determine, “if that start date is possible.” If that start date is not possible for whatever reason, the date will be pushed back at least one week. Each time the start date is pushed back the length of the season and the playoffs will have to be evaluated to determine if a change needs to be made on a sport by sport basis.
Football season would start on September 11th if everything started on August 17th. Teams have been asked to schedule seven games for the regular season and start with their region games and end the season with no region contests. Playoffs would start October 30th and only last four rounds versus the normal five, with the State Championships scheduled for November 20th.
Personally I like this plan, except for the playing region games first part. It provides a starting point for allowing fall sports and it is flexible. If things still aren’t looking better by time to play it is still possible to push football into the spring. If you move it to the spring now and there is another spike in cases of the virus, like there was in the spring of this year, then there would be no football. While, football isn’t any more important than any other sport it is the revenue sport that the majority of schools depend on to fund all of their other athletic programs throughout the rest of the year. I think for once the High School League got this one right, and that’s rare.
So to answer the question, “Will there be football this year?”, I still don’t know. I do feel better about it this week than I did last week, at least as far as high school goes. Changing from ten games to seven, changing the dates, and changing asking teams to schedule region games first, has a lot of teams scrambling to find games to put on their schedule for this season. That includes the Union County Yellow Jackets, who finally finalized their schedule yesterday afternoon. I can practically guarantee, however, that coaches and AD’s are happy to be looking for games, and glad the attempt is being made to play the game.
Union County 2020 Football Schedule
9/11 — Clinton (H)
9/18 — at Woodruff
9/25 — Broome (H)
10/2 — at Chapman
10/9 — at Emerald
10/16 — Spring Valley (H)
10/23 — Gaffney (H)
Tyler Shugart is the host of “Bump and Run” from 7-9 a.m. on Fox Sports 1400 AM 98.3 FM in Spartanburg. He can be reached at [email protected]