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Game Time? The Return of Sports and What It Means for Athletes and Fans

August 19, 2020

In Episode 11 of BOOM! The Southeastern Commerce Podcast, Nashville’s Brent Dougherty, co-host of 3HL on 104.5 The Zone, and Larry Holder, New Orleans sports columnist for The Athletic, talks to Brad Lampley and Chris Kane about the challenges of the return of fall sports across the Southeast as professional, college and high school leagues are starting their seasons, as well as what the fan experience might be like.

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Transcript and Show Notes

Christopher Kane: Welcome to Boom! The Southeastern Commerce Podcast. My name is Chris Kane, your host, and today we have a topic and some guests who I’m very excited to introduce. First up we’ve got Brad Lampley, who’s my law partner in our Nashville office. He is also the team leader for our Governmental Relations Team. Brad has brought along his good friend Brent Dougherty who is in Nashville and he currently hosts the 3HL program on 104.5 The Zone. As I understand it, The Zone is one of the highest-rated sports talk stations in the country, so Brent, we’re really excited to have you. And I’ve got my buddy down here in New Orleans, Larry Holder. Larry is with The Athletic. He’s been covering the Saints since 2006, and we also happen to share the fun incidence of having a fourth-grader, fourth graders I should say, that are in class as we speak. And we really want to welcome all three of you guys.

And the topic here today is quite simple. What we really want to address is what is going on with sports in the fall; particularly the importance of sports as the fabric of our communities. It’s important for our kids. But obviously, with COVID and the public health concerns, it is causing a lot of debates and a lot of different approaches. And we want to talk about those and understand from your perspectives and markets how that is impacting day to day decisions and all the way down to the parent decisions. A couple of you guys have kids who are playing high school and/or college football and getting ready for an up and coming season.

So with that, Brent, why don’t we start off with you? From a radio perspective I’m curious; covering sports from your perspective, how has COVID impacted it and how are you going about your daily business?

Brent Dougherty: Well I appreciate the opportunity to hop on this podcast. Really, thank you, guys. From my perspective in how COVID has affected my job, to give you an idea, I have not been in my office building since March 11, which I think given the math is about 22 weeks; five months. So I haven’t been there since then. So what happened to us happened quickly. We got a message on a Sunday night that said set up Skype; we’re doing the shows remotely. You’ll do your part of the show from your house and so forth. So we set up Skype and the first show was really bad because the audio was coming through the computer and not a microphone, and no processor or anything like that. We did the best that we could to put on a radio show. And basically how that worked was—long story short—we set up a Skype forum. Me and my co-host were each on Skype. The producer took the audio feed from that Skype session through our board at the radio station and then he put that across the airwaves.

And so that’s how we did it. The first day my wife heard it. She was in the car. She was like, that’s completely unacceptable; we’re going to Guitar Center after you get off the air. So we went to Guitar Center, got a microphone, got a processor, got hooked up and by day two we were good. And that’s all I’ve known so far. It feels natural now to sit in my office. I have a short commute. I have a drink in my hand very quickly after the show. And, you know, we do the best we can. Now we’re on Zoom, so we try to get guests to hop on Zoom because it’s just easier when you can see somebody. But we’ve done the best we could and we’ve made it work.

Christopher Kane: Well, our podcast future, we’re hoping that that’s what we’re going to look like, too. Because it is easier to talk to folks in person. From a technology standpoint, you know, across every industry there’s been this forced requirement that didn’t exist pre-COVID where technology’s really integrating into what we do day to day and has expedited to the marketplace and the use and how we go about it. And we’ve seen that across the board.

Larry, from your perspective, you know, The Athletic—pre-COVID, The Athletic was a very innovative and new form medium that really is a trend, particularly in your industry. And I’m guessing—I don’t know; I’m going to ask you—it seems like it may have very well postured you from the kind of old model to you’re in a new model market. How are things going for you and how are you able to do your day to day operations?

Larry Holder: Well thankfully because we are all over the country and we’re in Europe now, we knew Zoom already, because whenever we would have companywide calls we would do Zoom anyway. So thankfully that prepared us for what the future was to become and is now as far as, say, press conferences and this, that and the other. And it is Zoom and people trying to talk over each other. So it is, you know, it’s a little different obviously in that sense of the word.

But, look, as far as our market and our company, the format of kind of long-form and, you know, you're not doing the daily, you know, so-and-so got injured story. You know, our format of how we do long-form journalism and in-depth analysis and things, it forced us to get really creative. And we did get really creative. And, you know, I think it’s something that we were able to, you know, without some drawbacks, we did have some layoffs within our company, but still, we were still able to satisfy, you know, our subscribers. Which if people don’t know, we’re a subscriber-based media entity with no advertising, so we lean on subscribers. And so with that, that is a tough model to go through when there are no sports, live sports really, that are going on. And so, you know, that’s something that we’ve had to weather.

And now that we’ve seen sports come back, we are definitely seeing an uptick in interest and subscribers and things like that, which, you know, that’s – look; as a market, The Athletic has only been around in New Orleans for two years, and across the country really for about four. So, you know, we’ve kind of taken a big uptick and, you know, it’s taken us a little bit to get going. But, look, for now I mean we’re known across the country, I mean, as one of the biggest media outlets there is.

But as far as day-to-day, I’ll just put it to you this way. The Saints have started training camp. Their first preseason game would have been August 13. I have yet to go to an actual practice and there are no preseason games. So that is a definite difference there. Because only a certain amount of media members are allowed to go to practice, and you have to go through rigorous testing and wear masks and this, that and the other. There are no in-person interviews. You could go to practice and then you’ve got to run to your car and do a Zoom call with Sean Payton. And so it is vastly different and will be vastly different when games start. So yes, you know, I’m curious to see how it turns out when those start. But we’re already kind of familiarizing ourselves with no locker room access. So, you know, it makes everyone’s work in this field a lot more challenging than we’ve ever had to deal with.

Brad Lampley: You know, Larry, that segues nicely to our first topic of discussion, you know, drilling down to sports, which is exactly how the NFL is going to handle this. And I’m not sure whether the Saints have made any announcements in terms of fan access to the games in the Superdome and whatnot. But I know, Brent, the big story in Nashville, at least this morning, on top of, of course, the college football announcements of yesterday, which may have been the biggest ratings the SEC network has ever had as everybody scrambled to see what the schedule’s going to look like. But from an NFL standpoint here in our city just probably about 30 minutes ago the Titans and Mayor Cooper issued a joint statement indicating that the Titans first home game there will be no fans in the stands. And not sure whether that’s going to be a precursor of things to come or if the mayor’s goal will be to sort of, you know, let more people in the stands or let some people in the stands as the season advances.

But Brent, talk about that announcement by the Titans and the mayor this morning, the significance of that, and then also where you see this thing going; whether it’s in Nashville or whether it’s, you know, pro football throughout the country where you see this thing heading as we go down the line.

Brent Dougherty: Yes, I think it’s going to be a market by market thing. And even beyond; like I thought initially it might be a state by state thing, but it’s gone beyond that. Mayor Cooper in Nashville has a far different approach than Governor Lee does for the state of Tennessee.

So my kids go to a private school that is in Davidson County, and Mayor Cooper wanted Davidson County Schools to push back on the high school schedule, just in terms of high school football, through Labor Day. And so our perspective was with the relationship that our kids’ school has with Governor Lee, they went with Governor Lee’s approach and went away from Mayor Cooper’s approach. So it’s interesting to kind of see those battle lines being drawn politically within the state, but also within the municipalities.

Not surprised by the announcement today. In fact, I tweeted last night this: ‘Hearing we’re going to get some COVID-related national sports entertainment attendance news today #lookout.’ And what’s funny about that was a lot of people took that tweet to mean positive news today in terms of fans being able to attend, and that is not what I meant…

Brad Lampley: Yes, I know I did.

Brent Dougherty: …by the hashtag look out there. But anyway, so not surprised by that announcement today. I think everybody’s just kind of playing it by ear. We’ve never been through anything like this. And, you know, whether you agree or disagree with the way that people are handling the situation, I think it’s certainly fair to understand that we’ve never been through this before. So the way that we handle this individually or politically or, you know, otherwise is really kind of a fluid situation. I’ve never been through anything—I don’t think any of us have, right—that has been this fluid.

In terms of NFL attendance, though, again I think it’s going to be a market by market thing. You’ve seen some cities like Baltimore say 20%, I think. That’s kind of been the average number. It really doesn’t matter to the NFL, I don’t think. I mean obviously they’re going to lose money with no fans, but each team is getting about $300 billion for TV deals, so they’ve got to play the games. They’ve got to figure out a way to do that. I know fans are fired up. They want to figure out a way to go.

And here’s the thing; if you put 20% into a 67,000 seat stadium, I think you can safely social distance yourselves. So, you know, I come down on the other side of that deal. I think fans should be allowed to go on some level. You know, it’s really interesting to see how everyone’s handling it.

Brad Lampley: Well and the SEC…

Christopher Kane: Well Brent…

Brad Lampley: …just issued their guidelines this morning, Brent as you may have seen, about fan safety and security and so forth. And I know Chris wants to get to that in a minute. Chris, I know you had probably a follow up for Brent, so I’ll go ahead and let you go.

Christopher Kane: Well the comparison you mentioned is what intrigues me from a standpoint of how from a county or parish perspective to a state by state perspective. You know, in theory, the data should be driving these decisions. Here in Orleans Parish we got hit really hard early and our region got hit really hard early. From a parish perspective, our numbers are incredibly good in comparison to hot spots. I mean, look; any death is too many, but we’re hitting zero most days now on deaths. You know, we’re under 50 new cases a day. I think we’re averaging close to maybe 40. Our transmission rate is below .8. our positivity rate in terms of testing is around I think 1.8%, which are all, like, you know, really good numbers, particularly with the high number of tests that we have in place. Which is really a function of the fact that since we got hit hard early a lot of our testing capacity got stood up early.

Yet we’re sitting in a situation where we’ve got to look at a regional and state perspective. And I don’t know, Larry, I’m concerned that whether we are looking at the regional data and the fact that most Saints fans are not going to come into the Superdome that are only in Orleans Parish as a negative for what we’re probably going to see in the fall here in New Orleans, and I’d like to know what you’re hearing.

Larry Holder: Well, look; we know that the Saints are not going to have any fans in for week one. And that is probably upsetting to Saints fans since Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Bucs come to town week one and there will be no fans in the stands. So I know that local and statewide government are still trying to kind of evaluate the numbers. But, like, I live in Algiers, which is, you know, the west bank part of Orleans Parish. And I can go three miles, two miles and it’s a different set of rules. And so, you know, it’s really interesting in that sense to where local government’s going to go with fans getting in. I know they’re trying to be as deliberate as possible in doing so. And, you know, I’m wondering how close to kind of week one, week two, week three are they going to keep pushing a decision down the line week by week since, you know, other cities have just said flat out they’re not doing it the whole season. And so, you know, I think that’s something that they have to juggle.

And, look, I could just say LSU’s president was speaking yesterday and saying that, okay, you know, we’re expecting LSU fans to be in the stands for some of these games as the SEC announced the schedule, but was also discouraging people not to come on campus if they don’t have tickets. Who is going to police that I’m wondering?

You know, I feel like that is a monumental task. It’s like you’re going to have police or, like, ticket takers go up to each person, “Are you going? Do you have a ticket? Do you have a ticket? Do you have a ticket?” So, you know, it’s something that, man, I don’t know how you’re going to do that. And I think the comfort level of people is really going to tell a tale there. I mean I know a lot of Saints fans who just straight up went and got their money back and said, look, they’re going to hold my spot for next year; I’m not going. And yet there are definitely those people who are going to feel more comfortable.

And, you know, it’s going to be a personal decision because I feel like, you know, LSU might be more hell-bent to have fans in the stands than the Saints because LSU is far more dependent on attendance—Chris, as you alluded to—than NFL, the Saints because they have such high TV revenues.

Christopher Kane: Right. And what is it going to look like in a stadium is what I’m really interested in as a fan. Just from a fan perspective. I’ll be honest with you; the reason why I like going to a Saints game or LSU game is the fan experience. It’s being with 100,000 or 70,000 other people acting like a complete lunatic for three hours. We, unfortunately, remember the days when we would wear bags on our heads to go watch the Saints with 25,000 other people. We could socially distance just fine in the early ‘80s, right. That sucks. That’s not a fun fan experience, from my perspective. And I know that’s not, I mean obviously, the product that these organizations want to put out there; it’s just hampered by COVID. But it’s going to be interesting to see who actually makes that personal decision if they have the ability to go.

Brad, you were talking about the SEC guidelines, and along these lines. Maybe you can expound upon that. And from your perspective also as the father of a redshirt freshman getting ready to start up at Tennessee this year, what you’re experiencing from an SEC football perspective.

Brad Lampley: Yes, no, I’m glad to talk about that. And one other thing, just food for thought, maybe, as we talk about the end that will be, you know, finishing up on the last point was the pressure on some of these mayors. You know, you think about it. If the mayors are making the call for the NFL games, and at some level probably some of these college football games as well, and, you know, you’re sitting there watching TV on week two or three. And if Kansas City’s got fans in the stands and, you know, Charlotte’s got fans in the stands, but then my city does not, whether I’m in New Orleans or Nashville or Cincinnati or Cleveland, then does that put more political pressure on the mayor? I think it does. I think it might, you know.

But what we do know is that the fan experience, to your point Chris, is going to be decidedly different this year. You know, it’s funny. Brent, you’ll appreciate this is I was visualizing what Nissan Stadium would look like with 20,000 or 25,000 fans. It would almost look like a really bad spring football scrimmage, right. I mean an orange and white game towards the end when nobody’s there. And that’s kind of what it would look like, and that's going to be the best we could hope for.

You know, college football, so much of what makes college football special, especially in the SEC, is the pageantry, right. I mean we’ve got the ball walk at Tennessee. You’ve got all this amazing tailgating. You’ve got running through the T. You know, I know for a fact the ball walk is out. There won’t be a ball walk this fall. You know, I will suspect that the tiger walk at OSU, Chris, will be the same way. And so, you know, we’re going to lose a lot of that that makes college football unique.

The SEC did release this morning its fan guidelines. It’s still pretty fresh. I haven’t had a chance to really drill down in a lot of detail, but it is going to make masks mandatory when you come into the stadium and when you’re walking around the stadium. I think it left it open when you’re sitting at your seat. If you’re, you know, drinking a Coke or having a hot dog or something like that I think you’re probably okay. But a lot of emphasis on social distancing. A lot of emphasis on the protection of the people, the concession workers; mandating Plexiglas there. I know they mandated digital tickets only. They don’t want to have to handle any tickets or anything like that.

And of course, they also leave it more to the local municipality or the state to decide exactly what they’re going to do about letting fans in the stadium. I mean Brent, you know, I can see them for sure getting back to your dynamic with Davidson and Williamson County, I can see in Knoxville they’ll let fans in the stadium, probably, you know, 20-25,000 people, but then what about at Vanderbilt? Because if Vanderbilt decides—and insert your Vanderbilt attendance joke here—but you think about it; if Vanderbilt, you know, is talking to the mayor, he says I think we’re better off not having anybody, then at some point, you know, they may be one of the only ones that don’t have fans in the stands. So it really, Brent, gets back to your point about just what the local individual, you know, political decision is made and how that’s going to have a big effect everywhere.

Brent Dougherty: Yes, it’s interesting. Just in terms of Nashville, I don’t know what today’s announcement means for Vanderbilt and for high school football. I don’t know if that follow up question was asked. I was not there. I saw the initial statement saying that the Titans would not have attendance or fans in the stands through at least September, which means one game under those parameters; the home opener against the Jags. And let’s be honest, who in the hell really wants to see that anyway?

But the other part of that is if there are no fans in the stands in Davidson County, that I would think would include Vanderbilt, right, and would include high school football, right. So still trying to digest what that really means. Ultimately, just doing what we do, we want to see the games played. Anything beyond that I think is kind of a bonus. But you mentioned Tennessee. If Tennessee goes 20%, that’s 20,500 people in the stands. Could you imagine being one of the 20,500 people to watch Tennessee/Florida in Knoxville? Could you imagine what that vibe and what that atmosphere would be like? Like I wouldn’t want to miss it. Like, you would never forget that. It would be so bizarre.

Brad Lampley: Well, and what the secondary market will be for tickets.

Brent Dougherty: Oh man. Could you imagine? Like literally I would pay, like, easily five times the normal ticket price to experience what that would be like.

Brad Lampley: Right.

Christopher Kane: But that’s what we’re looking at. And a completely different dynamic, I just want to touch on it briefly before we turn to high school sports and drill down a little bit there. You know, we’ve got two other professional leagues, or actually three other professional leagues playing, including hockey, Major League Baseball and the NBA. And each one of them, because of the mechanics of how their leagues work, have adopted, you know, different plans. Larry, we just watched maybe the worst eight Pelican games that I’ve ever seen before. And if I hear the word the bubble one more time I’m going to vomit, because that’s all you hear is the bubble, the bubble, the bubble.

But the NBA has taken this approach where they basically just put everybody in one place and put a whole set of rules. Major League Baseball, obviously, has done it differently. There is travel and they obviously have had some team cluster breakouts that have required them to postpone, potentially cancel games. You know, it’s just a weird dynamic. And in each of those instances, there’s no fans. Well the NBA has these digital fans, which is even more distracting from my perspective to watch on TV. But Larry, I’d be interested to hear, you know, your thoughts in covering and following some of these other leagues and what they’re doing.

Larry Holder: Yes, and I can definitely—particularly to the Saints. Look, they don’t have a 100%—I know you’re going to love the word—quote/unquote bubble, but they have, I’d say, the vast majority of their players and staff staying at a downtown hotel and kind of being set there. Some players are staying at home. And so it’s not necessarily a true insulated area for everyone. But testing is certainly rampant. I mean it’s even rampant for the media. They need to be tested the day before they go to a practice and then they need a series of tests to be onboarded.

So, look, I think overall, for now, the NFL has actually done, and the players have done a really good job of being as COVID free as you can. And at least in the NFL level, it’s going to be more compared to baseball, just because they are playing in different places. They will be traveling. But NFL travel is unlike Major League Baseball travel. You are there for one night and then you play a game on Sunday and you leave Sunday. So you’re not out of town multiple days. And so, you know, but it is still going to come down to the individual player, the individual staff member, the coach to really kind of protect themselves and to protect others. And I’m curious to see where we go from there.

Now I could just tell you Sean Payton was certainly open in saying that he’s preparing himself for a disruption in play. And that would mean a game to be canceled because there’s an outbreak. And that’s the question that’s been asked so much: what happens if there’s an outbreak at quarterback for the Saints, or for the Falcons on the offensive line and you can’t field an offensive line. I mean that’s where a cancelation of a game could come in because you don’t have the players to properly fit. We don’t know if that’s going to happen. I know that people are anticipating that happening and the league knows that that could be a real possibility; obviously paying a lot of attention to what’s going on in Major League Baseball. And so, but for now, as padded practices are going on all over the NFL, I would say that the NFL during training camp has handled themselves pretty well in trying to keep it as COVID-free as possible.

Christopher Kane: It comes down to, I think, the ability and the speed of testing has I think proven to be a critical aspect. You know, you watch the first episode of “Hard Knocks,” which was kind of a surreal inside look into two organizations in, I guess, this mini bubble that they’re creating. But the key is the testing. And of course they’ve created the COVID list and they’re trying to come up with ways to make it safe and to figure it out. At the professional level it’s going to be easier, right. I mean it’s just you’ve got professionals and in theory you’re going to have a better organizational structure and less numbers. College is, you know, you saw what happened at North Carolina. You know, the concern that I have is, you know, look; we all were in college. It’s going to be harder to keep college athletes and students in a bubble or any sort of environment that something can’t pop up and you have a quick spread that’s going to cause disruption.

But turn to high school. And you’ve got now not just universities and states; you’re involving parishes and counties. I was talking to a good friend of mine who runs a school district in Arkansas. And, you know, they’re going. They’re moving forward with regular football practice when they begin school. And there’s 18 states right now that are planning to start on time. Thirteen have formally delayed in some way or manner, like Louisiana has delayed. Tennessee is going to start on time or as close to schedule as I appreciate it. And Brad, I want you to talk about your involvement in some of those discussions. And twelve have moved their entire schedule already, regardless of what happens this fall they’ve moved it to 2021, which creates a lot of issues for recruiting these high school kids.

And, you know, I felt terrible last year as a baseball player for the seniors who lost their senior year of baseball, either in high school and college. And, you know, now we’re going into another year where there’s going to be potential significant disruption and potential cancellations. But, you know, Brad, from your perspective, what you did in Tennessee, why don’t you tell us a little bit about how that played out and where things stand from a high school perspective?

Brad Lampley: We’re proud to represent the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association. And just, you know, you talk about just a great client and a great group of people that genuinely care about the safety of the student-athletes across the state. And every state is different. I will say that. In terms of both the composition and structure of the high school association, and then also how closely they either work with the governor and the other governing bodies or they don’t. In some states I think they’ve got a lot of autonomy to do whatever they want to do. But I think as we’ve seen, the governors get increasingly involved in decisions based on, you know, sort of how things are going in the states, as the governors have the authority to do.

In Tennessee, I think, to the TSSAA’s credit, in the spring when there were these mass cancellations going on across the country, they really tried to keep the spring sport championships in play for as long as they could; until it was impossible to have them in place and then, you know, they eventually pulled the plug. But in that process was very much in coordination with the governor’s office, and that’s something that we were proud to work on.

This summer as the summer went on, there were more and more conversations between us with the TSSAA and also the governor’s administration and his team about what would it look like. And as it went on we at the TSSAA developed I think a pretty strong set of standards and guidelines for players, for coaches, for fans in the stands and so forth. And that was developed through a lot of reviews of a lot of different state standards and the national high school standards, to where we came up with what we thought was really just a set of best practices. There were a lot of discussions between the TSSAA and the governor’s office about that, what that would look like, before, you know, any announcement was ever made.

A lot of fans, you know, a lot of people in the media, not that you guys would ever make any false statements—we know you two wouldn’t, of course—but there were people in the media that said, you know, the TSSAA and the governor aren’t doing anything, when in fact they were talking on a daily basis to really give a comfort level to the parents, to the student athletes, to the administrators and to the governor that everything was going to be done right. And you can’t ever eliminate all the risk. I mean you can’t guarantee that a young man or woman is to going to get COVID. But at the same time you try to make the measures in place as best you can to prevent any kind of community spread.

So ultimately a few weeks ago Governor Lee made the announcement at the capital that high school sports were going to proceed as scheduled. He did not have a—you know, there’s not a two week delay like there is in Georgia, or I guess Louisiana is still up in the air. I know Kentucky is going to meet on this as we speak to decide what they’re going to do. So we’re going to try to move ahead accordingly. The first game is this Friday night. Brent, I know your son is at CPA, which is an outstanding program and so will be heavily favored to win another state championship. So they’ll be, you know, I know that’s an exciting time for you.

But at the same time, I think the final thing I would like to say on this point is just that the specific athletic associations, and we talked last week with a client, they give the young men and women an opportunity to compete. They don’t say you’ve got to compete in football this fall. And so you’re seeing school systems across Tennessee where there have been flare-ups where they may delay their season for a couple weeks. And then you have to manage that within the construct of the organization and figure out is that a forfeit or what does that look like. So there are a lot of issues that have popped up, but I think the important thing is that at least in Tennessee anyway the athletic association and the governor are trying to give the young men and women a chance to compete, and that’s all you can ask for.

Brent, I’m not sure how you feel about having a son this Friday night, but I know this is a big time for you guys as well. It’s got to be exciting.

Brent Dougherty: I have felt completely comfortable with the way that high school football has been handled by the TSSAA in the state of Tennessee. I think to your point, brad, I think you guys and the governor and Bernard Childress, the executive director of the TSSAA, everyone has been in concert and has done a really good job of communicating. And that’s sometimes the hard part and the challenge, but that’s something that has certainly been a positive that’s come from all this.

As a parent with a kid that plays, I have no concern whatsoever. My kid is a junior at CPA. He’s a deep snapper, plus he’s a little bit on the offensive line and defensive line. And they’ve been doing temperature checks away from the football facility in the parking lot as the players arrive all summer as they’ve been able to attend practice or workouts or whatever the parameters were. So from a parent perspective, you know, if you test higher than 100.4, then you’ve got to go get tested or get a note from the doctor saying that the fever was not related to COVID and all of those things. So I feel good about it, honestly.

I mean here’s the thing; like my same kid when he was in eighth grade was playing in Chattanooga and broke his leg on the field. I mean there are risks involved in everything. And I think you hit the perfect thing when you’re talking about college football. I think the Big Ten made a big mistake. I think the Pac 12 made a big mistake as well in that the kids have had a choice. You can opt out to not play. If you don’t want to play, if you feel like it’s too dangerous, you can opt out. That gives the players that want to play the choice to do that.

You know, I’m not a live-in-fear guy, but I do take the, just personally, take the necessary precautions. I mask up and stay away from people when I’m out and about, but I’m going to live my life. And I want my kid to feel that kind of normalcy. And he does. Football season beginning this week; everybody was excited at school because it’s game week, and it’s the first game and all of those things. So I’m glad to see that in a day and time where all of the kids are wearing masks at school and everybody’s getting temperature checked when they walk in the building that they can still have that high school experience of football game week, which started yesterday.

Brad Lampley: Well, and you know, masks are an interesting issue as well, because that has become so politicized in the current charged environment that we’ve got politically. And I’ve got a friend—and Brent, I know you you’ve got a lot of these; as a matter of fact, you probably know the guy I’m talking about; I’m not going to name his name—but he argued with me until he was blue in the face that masks are a waste of time; they’re ineffective; they’re stupid; we shouldn’t use them. It’s, you know, and it was a lot of the typical narrative sometimes you hear, you know, on late night news programs. And I told him I said, look; your son is a high school football player. You’re going to have to wear the mask to the game whether you think it’s stupid or not. That’s just a part of getting in. And that’s the new normal we’ve all got to get used to.

I also told him, I said if you are lucky enough to get a ticket to Nissan Stadium this fall, you know, you can go up there to the game and you can argue with them all you want about how stupid this mask is, but if you do it you’re going to be outside the stadium watching everybody else walk in….

You know, there’s a new normal that all of us have got to deal with. You know, and that’s part of it.

Christopher Kane: Well, and here in Louisiana, from our perspective, we’ve got to get into phase four, which I had to look up, I didn’t know it was a phase, before they’ll allow…

Larry Holder: It is not a phase. Chris, it is not a phase. It’s a phase that the LHSAA created. Because I had to go look it up. I said what is phase four? It is not a real phase. It’s like some mythical phase past phase three. So, see, that’s the difference of where we are here in the state right now.

Christopher Kane: Right. I fear that the Rummel Raiders and the Brother Martin Crusaders are not going to be playing this fall. Because we’ve got a phase that nobody—like we just made it up, you know. And even though our numbers are trending in a good direction, the regional numbers, statewide numbers are trickier. And it’s just a challenge. And, look, from everything we talked about, at the end of the day the decision makers I think, and going to the Pac 10 and the other conferences who have decided to just go ahead and cancel and shut down, is inflexible, and there needs to be a lot of flexibility across all the school districts; across the conferences; the professional leagues. And I think if you do that and apply data and science, you’re going to come to a better outcome that allows for people—Brent, as you said—to make a personal decision to play or not play or to be a fan and go or to be a fan and stay at home.

But, Brad, last time you were a guest on this podcast that evening a devastating tornado cut through Nashville, and then about a week later COVID hit, so I’m hoping that this is a turning point and that tomorrow there’s a vaccine and COVID goes away and our jinx of having you on will be resolved. But guys, I really…

Brad Lampley: Either that or this is my last podcast of all time.

Christopher Kane: Yes, right; right. Exactly. Well look; real quick. Brad, you were quoted, recently interviewed for The Athletic; Larry, we’re glad to have you on and really suggest to everybody to sign up if you’re not; to get on The Athletic. It’s a great forum. And right now with the way that we’ve got really four professional leagues in action that is incredible and it’s a great resource. And Brent, likewise, thank you. The 3HL program on 104.5 The Zone in Nashville. Folks, tune in to that. This has been a kick for me because I’m getting paid to talk sports, and I don’t usually get to do that. And you two guys get to do it for a living, and I know Brad and I are both very jealous. But thanks again guys for being on and for our guests. Please look us up for the next podcast in the near future. Thank you.