By Ray Hamill — The college football season kicked off in earnest across the nation last weekend, and what a welcome sight it was to see.
In the midst of an ongoing global pandemic, we need our sports to return to normal as much as possible, and not just for the young athletes, but also for fans, coaches and, yes, even sportswriters.
And so it was refreshing to see so many games — collegiate and NFL — over the past week, and it provided a much-needed sense of normalcy.
Some of them were even played with a limited number of fans in attendance and socially distancing, which begged the question, why isn’t every team doing that?
But while all of that was nice to see, it was also bittersweet because it served as a reminder of what we no longer have here on the North Coast.
This fall, for the first time in generations, we will have no college football in Humboldt County, and no global pandemic can mask the pain of that fact.
Of course, this fall we also will have no high school football because of COVID-19 — or maybe it’s because of a refusal to believe we can find a way, or politics, or any number of reasons you could argue, although we should at least have the prep game back in the new year.
Likewise, local fans will be hoping that the suspended CR program will be back when budget constraints ease, and that potential BS politics within the local community college won’t prevent that from happening (we’ll see).
Humboldt State, however, is a different story.
The former university and athletic department administration was wrong to eliminate the program, and delusional in its reasoning.
HSU football served as the face of the sports department and even that of the school in some ways, giving the Jacks an identity and depth of diversity no other Lumberjacks program can provide.
What’s homecoming without football? What are Saturday afternoons or evenings in the fall in Arcata without the games, the tailgating parties, the buzz and colors about town?
It gave the students something to do. It gave local football fans — young and old, parents and children — something to do. It gave the students something to do.
The games were as much a part of the school as anything else, and Humboldt State sports will never be the same without football.
A new administration has a lot of other concerns on campus right now, but it’s important to keep reminding them what the university and the community lost when the Jacks dropped football. (Not to mention the economic impact.)
It’s important to not allow this story fade away, which is exactly what the former administration wanted to see.
The devastation of COVID-19 cannot hide what sports fans here lost when the HSU football team was taken away from us, and regardless of the ongoing pandemic, seeing college football return around the country last weekend served as a bittersweet reminder of that.