Football provides ‘normalcy’ and an escape

College Football season is upon us after all sorts of turbulence in the month of August. Two of the three Power Five conferences that’ll be playing football this fall, the ACC and Big12, are set to get things rolling this weekend and the SEC will start up on September 26 with its conference only schedule.

Since the 2020 National Championship game, the world has dealt with a pandemic and the United States has experienced all sorts of unrest over issues surrounding social justice and racial equality. Georgia running backs coach Dell McGee, an African-American man, has stood by his players as they’ve expressed their discontent racial inequality while also making his thoughts known in his own way.

He has joined them in their quest to make a difference in the local community with the “Dawgs for Pups” initiative and when he held his first ever meeting with reporters on Wednesday, he was asked about why it’s important to play football in a time like this.

His answer centered around what the sport means to his players and to everyone else who loves it.

“I just feel like it brings normalcy,” McGee said via Zoom.” Football and particularly athletics in general, it allows everyone to move away from that space and look at it and enjoy the game we all grew up loving. I think it’s really, really good for our kids—being cooped up and not being able to do spring ball and their normal routine. Just being able to come back and practice and have the social interaction—the everyday interaction we have with our players has been beneficial to them, as well as us as coaches. It was tough sitting in the house having to do all of your sessions and meeting via Zoom. I think it is welcomed. I think we have done a great job as a staff, medical staff and insuring that all of our players are safe and everyone feels comfortable moving forward.”

Saying things have been touch and go over the past few months is an understatement. Schools across the country sent students home for spring semester, cancelled championships for spring sports as well as spring practices, and the Big10 and PAC12 cancelled football season for the Fall amid concerns over the spread of COVID-19.

Feelings of fear, hurt, and anger over racial inequality have also boiled over, resulting in numerous protests and demonstrations. In a lot of ways, the country is divided and a number of Bulldog players have put their opinions out there. A little over a week ago, the entire team made its way to the Holmes-Hunter Academic Building on North Campus for a demonstration where they stood united against racial inequality.

Sports, whether you find them important in a time like this or not, serve as a distraction. Even those fighting tooth and nail for change benefit from an escape. Football can provide that and McGee, who has spent a large portion of his adult life leading and mentoring young men, agrees.

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