Believe it or not, high school football could be making its return to Butte County.

Better late than never, right?

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement Friday that high school football will be able to take place in counties with purple/red tiers means the student-athletes in the area may be able to salvage a season to end the school year.

Butte County is on the cusp of reaching that mark, with a case rate of 14.7 per 100,000; the limit is 14, so we may soon see those Friday night lights once again — this time, in the spring instead of the fall.

An Almond Bowl played in the spring? We’ll take it.

It’s a win for local student-athletes, who have missed out for far too long.

We’ve seen local cross-country teams race. Those meets are more than just a place where kids can run and compete. It’s an environment where kids are pushing themselves with encouragement from fellow teammates, coaches, strangers from the other team and members of the community. Although hidden behind masks, their smiles are still shining through.

These kids wouldn’t have heard those words of encouragement isolated at home unless they came across a screen, and the impact of the loss of these shared experiences — for the athletes, fellow students, fans and families — will frankly be unknown for many years to come. You can, however, expect the impact to be huge.

We could also see soccer, baseball and softball played at the high school level this spring. Butte College is already planning its upcoming baseball season, with a makeshift schedule of games depending on which other junior colleges decide to opt-in. The Roadrunners softball and track and field teams will also be able to compete soon.

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The COVID-19 numbers are dropping. Youth sports are slowly rolling back out. Of course, now is not the time to get complacent and pretend that we’re no longer in a pandemic; safety measures must continue to be implemented and from what we’ve seen, they will be.

We’re still a ways from the end zone, but this news is one of the best signs yet that the goalposts are finally within sight.




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