Cautiously optimistic, yet nervously concerned. Anyone else feeling that way, too?
Late Friday afternoon, right about the time everyone was heading off to begin their holiday weekend celebration, the Illinois High School Association emailed a press release to media outlets across the state and posted the same news to its website.
The headline read: "IHSA & IDPH Announce Phase 4 Return To Play Guidelines For IHSA Teams That May Begin July 5."
A 400-word explanation followed, but the time it took to formulate the release could have been saved had the IHSA simply said this: "Sports are coming. Get ready."
That's how the news was interpreted.
Countless tweets included or were hashtagged with the phrase "Football is back." A number of Facebook posts shared the "Let's play" sentiment. And text messages zipped from here to there and everywhere with a "time to get started" theme.
It clearly added to the celebratory nature of the weekend and has coaches and student-athletes looking forward to a Monday for a change.
Here's why they got excited.
The IHSA's plan toward having fall sports moved forward when the Illinois Department of Public Health rubber stamped a set of guidelines increasing interaction and activity beginning Monday.
Athletic teams sponsored by IHSA member schools can gather in groups of 50 coaches and students or less to conduct practices or contests. Coaches can conduct team activities on 20 contact days between during a period ending August 9.
School districts and local health officials have to approve these activities as well. And fans, should any want to watch the workouts, will be limited to 20 percent or less of a facility's capacity.
But as the IHSA noted, fans do not traditionally attend summer workouts. Even so, the rare circumstances in which it might happen have been addressed.
Add it all up and we're moving a step closer to the sounds of fall with whistles blowing, pads popping and coaches bellowing.
Optimism is as high as it has been in months. And still, there's concern. Major concern. A "no, no, no, no" kind of concern.
That's because there continue to be spikes in positive coronavirus tests and general ignorance by some in regards to safety precautions.
You can debate wearing a mask all you want. Call it an obligation to wear one or consider it part of your freedom not to. It's your choice.
What's non-debatable and undeniably foolish is having COVID-19 parties to see who gets infected or a private prom which leads to an outbreak stretching far beyond those in that room.
The more those instances occur, the less likely fall sports become. Six weeks remain before the first sanctioned fall event takes place, and every day until then will have a familiar feel.
Cautiously optimistic, yet nervously concerned.