The Mood of the Meet:
A few weeks ago, Alabama and Georgia played each other in college football. Alabama was ranked #2 and Georgia was ranked #3. In years past, regardless of the names on the front of the jersey, if teams with these rankings played each other it would be appointment viewing for myself and most of my friends and after each big play my text threads would light up with multiple alerts and reactions. My group chat was pretty quiet this year however and at some point during the first half I sent out a poll that read, "Does this feel like a 2 vs. 3 Game?" The responses were mixed:
|Nothing feels important anymore||1|
I chose "Sort of." While I did have it on my TV, I was only a passive observer and turned the channel at halftime. I found out the results the morning after. Alabama won 41-24 and while I'm not allegiant to either team, I was pleased to see Alabama covered 4.5 and the over hit.
What 2020 has shown me is that when you pare down and prioritize things in your life into 'Essential vs. Secondary,' the essential items' importance are amplified while the secondary items in some cases fall off entirely. Neither of my parents went to college. I wasn't dressed in a "Vols Onesie" after I was born. While my friends still live and breathe college football, my interest has waned this season.
The state meet begins Thursday and I'll ask you the same question: Does it feel like it?
If you are reading this, I assume the answer is emphatically "YES" and when you prioritized the items that were essential in your life, cross-country was at the top of your list. Though this season has been complicated at best, by end of the week, eight teams and eight individuals will go home a State Champion and that medal around their neck will have no less significance than those won in previous seasons. After all we've been through, it may have more.
For those in Shelby County though, anguish may best way to describe how they're feeling this week. It went without reporting on our site but Shelby County Schools essentially canceled fall sports. In a typical year, eight or 9 teams score at the Region 8 Large meet. Only 4 teams participated in last week's race. In my preseason article I mentioned how glad I was we weren't Virginia who postponed all their sports until the Spring. I guess I never considered that within the borders of our state, local leaders would conflate caution with control in such a draconian manner but at this point I guess I'm not surprised.
With that said, my emotions are hard to describe. If I had choose one word that best expresses my overall feeling heading into this week it would be "relief." We made it. That feeling is likely exclusive to me though as I, a reporter, have no stake in the outcome of the races on Thursday and Friday. I'm just thankful we have a state meet to cover. For the athletes running, parents cheering, and coaches strategizing I imagine there is the typical nervous anxiety setting in with a sense of relief only coming after the race has finished.