‘Let Them Play’ rally held in Richmond last Monday

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Richmond was the site of a “Let Them Play” rally on Monday afternoon as a group of parents and football fans “marched on the capitol” to try and get Virginia to play football this fall.

Apparently this kind of tactic was successful in Michigan. Parents and supporters there held a rally at the state capitol on August 28, and by September 3 Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer relented and allowed high school football to be played. Other states held similar rallies with mixed success.

Holly Wiles, the parent of a child at Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, Va., became aware of this and started a similar drive to have football in Virginia. About three-quarters of the states in the United States are playing high school football this fall, including bordering Tennessee.

I was reading about the Michigan rally and how they changed their governor’s mind,” Wiles was quoted as saying in a story by Andy Hilton on the website recruit757.com. “I got up, talked to my husband and son and I said, ‘I’m sick of this. We need to be playing all sports this fall, not just football. I’m going to start a rally.’ I put up a Facebook post five minutes later.”

Wiles’ son, Billy, is a Tulane-bound senior who was to be the quarterback at Stone Bridge High. Billy put out a Twitter post and in a day the family had almost 4,000 names on a petition and 23,000 people who had seen Billy’s post. An event was planned for Monday and took place at noon with participants wearing green in support of the cause.

This doesn’t just affect fall sports, this affects the entire year of sports,” Holly Wiles was quoted as saying in the recruit757.com story. “ (Under the current plan,) seasons are going to be condensed. Football players aren’t going to be able to play baseball. It’s a big deal. These kids need their structure. They need their sport. A very big part of what got me going is that I know there are kids who deserve to play Division I football who won’t have an opportunity to be seen because we won’t have a football season. Those kids might not go to college.”

The Virginia High School League was quick to reply to the event. On Monday afternoon the VHSL issued the following statement.

We fully understand and support the passion of high school sports from our school communities, parents, and students. From day one, we have been committed to getting our students participating in activities safely and responsibly. There has been a tremendous amount of input and cooperation from principals, superintendents, activity directors, coaches, and members of various communities. 

The VHSL and its member schools have worked tirelessly over the past several months to create a plan for our students to participate in VHSL sponsored athletics and activities. Our Executive Committee will meet this Thursday to approve and adopt our “Championships + 1” schedule for the FY 2021 Athletic and Academic Activities season. This schedule provides every VHSL sponsored activity a season during the FY2021 year.

VHSL staff and Executive Committee will continue to work in cooperation the VHSL Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) to develop a list of recommended guidelines for school divisions as they prepare for the safe reopening of high school sports and activities.”

The meeting on Thursday of this week was originally scheduled for September 3 but moved back two weeks. The reason for the move was to give the VHSL Executive Committee and staff an additional two weeks to review and discuss feedback from membership before adopting the final schedule, as the VHSL had a great response to their “Championships + 1” schedule that was to begin in late December with Winter, Fall and Spring sports played in order beginning at that time.

I wouldn’t expect much change from this week’s VHSL meeting, but you never know. Stay tuned, it’s a hot subject.

NFL Football is back

Other than my favorite team blowing a 17-point lead and losing, I thoroughly enjoyed the first weekend of NFL football, even without fans.

When the cameras were on the field, it was almost impossible to see any difference than in past years, except maybe if you spotted a coach or official with a mask on. The players played just as hard without screaming fans to “cheer them on” as I watched the Thursday night game and three Sunday games. Then we had two good Monday Night games to boot.

One thing that was interesting was the piped in fan noise. There were times when I instinctively expected to hear boos on a close play where a penalty flag was not thrown. There were other times when cheers went up when the visiting team kicked a field goal or scored a touchdown, and I thought that was odd. Other than that, it was an enjoyable day of football.

It was interesting to watch the Washington game, and I was listening closely to see if anyone called them the Redskins. As far as I could tell there were no slipups by the play-by-play or color analysts. I imagine if there were the usual fans in the stands we would have heard “Hail to the Redskins” after Washington touchdowns, but with empty seats that wasn’t going to happen.

It was my first time watching the Washington team play in their new uniforms and my first thought was they looked like the Brookville High School team. And, for a quarter and a half, they played about as well as the Bees might do in an NFL game. However, the worm turned, so to speak, and the Skins, or rather WASHINGTON TEAM, pulled out a big win in their first game under new coach Ron Rivera.

And, ironically enough, former Brookville standout Logan Thomas caught a touchdown pass.

Noonan is back on the bag

Did you see where Michael O’Keefe is caddying at the U.S. Open this week?

If you don’t recognize the name, he played Danny Noonan in one of my favorite movies, “Caddyshack.” It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 40 years since that movie came out in July of 1980!

O’Keefe was scheduled to caddie for club professional Danny Balin during Monday and Tuesday practice rounds this week at the Winged Foot course in Mamaroneck, N.Y.

O’Keefe, now 65, grew up near the storied club and actually caddied there in 1971 and ’72. He had written a first-person piece for GOLF.com, making a case to caddy at the Open. Balin, who is the head pro at Fresh Meadow Country Club on Long Island and was one of three club pros to whom the USGA gave a U.S. Open exemption for finishing in the top three of the 2019 PGA Professional Player of the Year standings, saw the story and thought it would be fun to have “Danny Noonan” caddy for him.

I try to take this somewhat serious, so I would never do this during a tournament round,” Balin told The New York Post. “But I was like, yeah this will be cool. Danny Noonan. Monday and Tuesday. It’ll be a fun couple of days. It’ll lighten the mood up.”

Now if we only had Bill Murray out there blowing up groundhogs, that would be a good story.