OPINION: The LHSAA, Local School Districts Are Right Letting Kids Play On

by Casey Gisclair, Lafourche Gazette Editor

A special thanks to Casey and the Lafourche Gazette for allowing GeauxPreps.com to share this opinion piece. To view the most up-to-date content inside Lafourche Parish as well as Grand Isle and Port Fourchon, please visit https://www.lafourchegazette.com.

It takes a lot to get me angry. I pride myself on being a balanced person with an open-mind for opposing viewpoints.

I may not always agree with someone, but I take pride in at least trying to understand where the other side is coming from so that we can find some common ground.

But something that happened this past week made me hot — downright livid.

New medical guidance was announced by medical leaders regarding how to handle school in the midst of the new wave of the pandemic. In those guidelines, it was recommended that ALL extracurricular activities be canceled until the wave ceased. That would have meant the end for all sports while waiting to get out of this wave — however long that might be.

Reading it made me furious.

Look, anyone who knows me or my history with this newspaper knows that I have been on the front lines of covering COVID since Day 1. No one locally has crunched the numbers harder than I have. No one locally has reported on the situation more in-depth than I have. And because of that, no one knows how serious this situation is and has been for the past 2 years.

But we can’t just keep cutting things out of our lives, either. At some point, we have to weigh risks, study the consequences of our actions and find ways to move forward.

Right now, Louisiana is wide open. We have no mask mandate. We have no attendance restrictions. Governor John Bel Edwards would likely want to have both things in place, but has opted against them due to political in-fighting with Republican lawmakers in our state.

So by that math, we can host a Saints game in the Superdome with 70,000 people, and we can have an LSU football game with 110,000 people in Tiger Stadium, but high school sports (with an average crowd of roughly 300-500 people) are the problem?

That’s nonsense.

High school sports are grossly important to our community. They keep kids out of trouble. They keep kids on the right path. They teach kids the life lessons that they need to be productive, useful adults in our world. Take them away, and it will cause mental health and damages that will far outweigh the risk of people that age of contracting the virus and having severe complications (which is near 0).

Taking that away will put kids at risk for mental health issues, which will lead to greater drug addiction and/or suicide. Both of those things — not COVID — are the leading killers in people ages 15-21.

Now, I’m not saying to be irresponsible, nor unreasonable. If a team has an outbreak, then let’s shut them down for a while. If the virus is spreading in the same common space, then we should take steps to remove the risk from certain areas. But blanket shutdowns are irresponsible and should not be considered — definitely not when the Saints and LSU are still able to compete at a full-go.

Statistics show that while vaccinated patients can still get COVID, they are at far less risk to have severe complications from the omicron wave of COVID. If one feels unsafe or unsure about going to a game, simply stay home. That’s OK.

But to take these opportunities from kids, it’s just unjust and unfair and will do absolutely, positively zero to solve or stop the problem.

Kudos to the LHSAA. Kudos to our local school districts.

Let the kids play.

Shutting them down will do far more harm than good.