State’s COVID decisions trigger unusual sentiment: happiness

Imagine you’re a high school athletic director.
It’s likely you love sports and you like kids, or you could find a lot of easier ways to make money.
Your job – if not life – centers on trying to maximize the experience for high school kids, for many of whom athletics provide motivation to gain other knowledge and skills they need but might not otherwise be inclined to pursue.
For the last year, as been the case with many other professions to one extent or another, athletic directors have been stymied – forced to watch teens get their hopes up, then have them dashed repeatedly by edicts from the capital.
Few of us may comprehend the tensions that our governor and health authorities have felt in trying to steer a course that would keep Oregonians healthy in the face of this virus, but the citizens that have suffered are kids.
It’s been clear for some time now that kids are less affected by the virus than us older folks, and while they certainly can transmit the virus to others, they’ve suffered in a myriad of other ways over the past year.
Those who haven’t done well in what essentially has been home schooling have suffered academically. Those who crave interaction with peers have suffered emotionally and psychologically, because seeing friends’ and relatives’ faces on a flat screen doesn’t come close to the vibes that come with physical contact, even at a 6-foot distance.
We’ve had coaches tell us about having brawny, physically powerful teens bawling in their offices.
When greeting formerly vivacious, fun-loving athletic young men and women in recent months, we often get a dead glance with an unenthusiastic monosyllable response, if that, when I asked how they were doing. Clearly, not well.
COVID has been a tough slog for all of us, with a lot of conflicting emotions, but it’s been terrible for many of our kids.
And that’s why we’re thrilled that Gov. Brown and her advisors have seized this opportunity to make some changes.
That’s why it’s great to hear genuine enthusiasm from the above-mentioned athletic directors, who have been in the crosshairs of the conflicting tensions and emotions that have dogged us all.
Of course, to keep this going, we have to maintain those COVID metrics, which means doing what it takes to keep ourselves and others healthy.
This has been a long time coming, but it’s a wonderful feeling: happiness.