Several years ago I attempted to have Direct TV installed in my apartment, seeing as it is the only way to subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket.

(Which, you know, it should be illegal for one provider to have a monopoly on such programming. A lawsuit brought against DirectTV and the NFL on these grounds was upheld in the Ninth District Court of Appeals, which ruled the Sunday Ticket business model was a monopoly and violated antitrust laws, and it has gone to the Supreme Court. That was in March).

Asking my apartment complex if I could install a DirectTV satellite dish, I was presented with a stack of documents detailing all the hoops I had to jump through to install a dish.

They all could have been replaced by one sheet stating: “We don’t want tenants to install satellite dishes.”

I get that feeling while reading through the National Federation of State High School Associations guidelines for resuming high school sports for the 2020-21 school year.

It’s a 16-page document that could be distilled down to ne sentence: if the COVID-19 pandemic is over, play; if not, don’t play.

(See story elsewhere in paper for details on the guidelines; the guidelines are also available at under the “Media” link.)

Maryland is currently in Phase 1 of its recovery plan. Under the NFHS guidelines, sports considered “moderate risk” cannot even begin practicing until Phase 3.

“Moderate risk” fall sports include volleyball, soccer and field hockey. Other “moderate risk” sports are basketball, baseball, softball, tennis and girls lacrosse.

Football, wrestling, boys lacrosse and competitive cheerleading are considered “high risk.” The NFHS document doesn’t go past Phase 3, so I guess the “higher risk” sports don’t get cleared until either Phase 4, or the pandemic is declared over.

So I wouldn’t bet on seeing any high school football this fall season. Soccer, field hockey and volleyball aren’t anywhere near sure things. The only sport active may be cross country, which is considered a “lower risk” sport — as long as it uses staggered starts and the runner maintain social distancing (ever seen the finish of a race?).

So, unless Maryland progresses rapidly through the four phases of its reopening plan, then the fall sports season will be cancelled or delayed. Except cross country.

If the decision is made to start the school year with students staying at home and taking classes online, I think its obvious sports will be cancelled or postponed.

And, again, unless the coronavirus suddenly vanishes, there’s no football season. I may, uh, have problems adjusting to that reality.

I really hope I’m wrong, but I also believe the possibility of canceling all high school sports in 2020-21 is in play right now.

No one wants to put students at risk just for sports. The opportunity to play football is not worth anyone’s life. But in the overall scheme of things, how long are we going to keep everything shut down while time keeps moving?

* * *

Five years ago I spent all of Memorial Day weekend lying in a hospital bed with an I.V. stuck in my arm learning I had diabetes.

Missed the second and third days of the state track and field championships. Missed the Sparrows Point softball team in the Class 1A state championship game (nurses wouldn’t let me leave, despite my sworn oath I would return).

My personal response to COVID-19 would have been: if I catch it, I’ll endure it and ride it out until it runs its course. Which has been my approach to diabetes, come to think of it.

But diabetes also puts me at higher risk for developing complications from COVID-19. And according to medical professionals among my family and friends, people don’t completely recover from being put on a ventilator. Hence the mask and staying isolated.

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