Word out of Baton Rouge last week that Louisiana high schools would set aside the coronavirus craze for a spell and kick off the regular football season Oct. 8 was welcome news, needless to say.
It was a shot in the arm, too, for a state that’s been held hostage by Gov. John Bel Edwards for some six months now over his insistence that Louisiana remain in a dictatorial state over the politically charged coronavirus until he says otherwise. Or immediately following the Nov. 3 presidential election, depending on the outcome of course.
You can thank state Attorney General Jeff Landry for stepping up and giving the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) the legal cover it needed to allow schools to play ball this fall void of the fear of being sued over a youngster who might get sick from the virus. Landry’s legal opinion was sorely needed prior to LHSAA director Eddie Bonine testifying Friday before the House Education Committee, which was originally scheduled to hear from Bonine as well as Dr. Courtney Phillips, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health. Phillips was a no-show, which shouldn’t surprise anyone since she was appointed to her post by Edwards. Bonine’s testimony, however, soothed the fears of state lawmakers who are caught between two factions — scores of constituents including upset parents who want their teenagers to experience a normal school year and the governor and his lackeys. The latter would prefer that Louisiana, including high school football players, remain hunkered down until the governor gives us permission to resume our lives in a somewhat normal fashion.
The LHSAA found itself in the unenviable position of looking to Landry for help thanks to its own doing. Having previously stated the high school football season would not commence until Edwards moved the state into Phase 3 of the emergence from the coronavirus lockdown, the LHSAA was precariously close to losing the 2020 season altogether since Edwards has shown zero signs of freeing Louisiana from this madness. And since the governor obviously enjoys playing dictator, the LHSAA was forced to call an audible. That set the stage for Landry.
You don’t need a doctorate degree in political science to determine most Louisianians have chosen to ignore Edwards’ do’s and don’ts as they relate to the virus. Look around the next time you are in a grocery store or a convenience store or a restaurant. Count the number of people who are freely moving about sans a mask, which Edwards insists will stop the spread of the virus. The mask means nothing, but I suppose mind games are good for something for somebody.
A likely gubernatorial candidate in just three years, Landry earned his stripes last week, especially in the hearts and minds of countless Louisianians who yearn for a return to normal activity. There’s nothing more “normal” than high school football in Louisiana, except Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.
Edwards, on the other hand, has earned a footnote in the history books as the first Louisiana governor to ever get rolled by the LHSAA and a state attorney general.
Sam Hanna is the publisher of the Ouachita (West Monroe) Citizen.