We made it! Last week we crowned seven new football champions, in what had to be the toughest, most trying and difficult football season ever.
There is only one reason why we made it through the season- the leadership of the executive director of the AHSAA.
From the beginning you always said that our intention was to play. While everything around us seemed to be cancelling, you said we needed to play . “We need our kids to get back to being kids,” you said and you were right.
And you were criticized.
This spring when a decision had to be made, you could have gone the way that other states went. It was the popular thing to do. Postponing the season was an option. Other states canceled altogether. It was the easiest path and there was pressure everywhere to go down that road.
Some tried to make decision makers feel as though if you did not stop all play you didn’t care about the students who play the games. You ignored the noise and always contended that our kids needed to play football. You concentrated your efforts on how it could be done safely.
Right in the middle of the virus panic in May, Alabama once again took the courageous leadership role in high school football that we are known for throughout the nation. Knowing that you would be criticized and not knowing what was down the road in the days ahead, you stood up for all of the players and coaches in our state and announced for all to hear- “We will play!”
And you were criticized.
We know it was not an easy decision, and we know that you consulted everyone possible before making it. But we have all been taught through playing the game that when you get knocked down to stand up, face your fears and give the next play everything you’ve got. In football, we just don't quit because others tell us it can't be done. And when things seemed to be bleak, you stood tall for all of us.
There have been the problems you warned us about. Positive virus tests and quarantines. Yes, we have had to forfeit some games and at times, we had to play short handed. Seating charts on buses and bottled drinks on the sidelines. We wore masks to the point that it almost became normal. But what we discovered was that when the whistle blew, it was football just like it always had been.
Some of the states that took other routes, watched us and said, “we should be doing this like Alabama.” Even the Big 10 and the Pac 12 eventually came to your way of thinking, realizing that your philosophy of “let’s do whatever we need to do so we can play safely” was the right one all along.
The Alabama Football Coaches Association wants to say thank you. Thanks from the players, the coaches, the parents, the schools and the communities. Thanks for allowing us to play this great game.
Norman Schwarzkopf, the great military general said that in a time of crisis people look to follow “people of character.”
Turns out he was right.
The Alabama Football Coaches Association