Well everyone, things are happening.

Like it or not, agree or disagree, it looks as if life is slowly going back to normal. How we've dealt with COVID-19 will be widely debated. But what seems unmistakably clear is that society is trying to create normal again, or at least gradually build toward it.

Once states started lifting their stay-at-home orders, I had a feeling that sports wouldn't be too far behind in allowing games to be played and, at the very least, getting athletes back into facilities to start training for seasons.

Obviously, getting professional sports up and running is a whole different ballgame as compared to college and high school sports, because there are different leagues and associations at play.

But a big step was taken to getting college sports back this fall when the NCAA Division I Council voted to approve voluntary activities in football as well as men's and women's basketball starting on June 1. All other sports will be acted on at a later date.

While there is still a long time and a lot that needs to happen between now and the start of a football season, it's definitely a step in the right direction.

A question that coaches have been asked is: How much time do they believe they will need to get their teams ready for the season if it starts on time? The first weekend of games is Aug. 29, with a partial schedule, and the first full weekend of games is the following week, which is when McNeese State is scheduled to make the short trip east to take on longtime rival Louisiana-Lafayette.

Some coaches have said they will only need about a month to get ready, while others have said six and even up to eight weeks is necessary.

When players go back to workouts starting June 1, again, keeping in mind that it is voluntary, they will not be in football shape or even close to it. A lot of the hard work the players did from the start of winter workouts in January until everything stopped in mid-March is gone. Some players were able to get in good workouts while at home on lockdown, but most probably could only do a lot of bodyweight workouts, some running on their own, and improvising.

Strength and conditioning coaches have a tough task ahead of them: ease the athletes back into strenuous workouts as the country moves into the hottest time of the year, but don't take too long acclimating because the players need to be in shape for whenever it's announced that training camp can take place.

And I've written about this before, but it's going to be even tougher for programs like McNeese, with a new coaching staff and new schemes that were robbed of spring practices. The Cowboys have a little bit of time to put a lot in.

Yes, they've been putting in work online through Zoom meetings, but it's not the same as being out on the field or even being in the same meeting room.

With so much needing to happen between now and Sept. 5, it's nice to know that sports are slowly coming back. I don't say this to try and place sports in a more important light than anything else going on right now.

There are people doing way more important things than I am right now writing this column, as well as people fighting for their lives because of this devastating virus. But sports is my livelihood, as it is for plenty of people throughout the state, country and world. Sports are helping put a roof over my head and food in my mouth. Plus, even as a fan, I simply miss it.

Again, I hope this is all done responsibly so we can at the least watch sports in the fall. Will stadiums be packed with people? While it would be cool, I'm leaning towards no to that. But you never know.

Like I've said, there are still so many unanswered questions before we ultimately get what we want.

But recent announcements have started to give us glimmers of hope, which is all we can ask for right now.


David Berry covers McNeese State athletics. Email him at dberry@americanpress.com

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