Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:
The State Journal on the Kentucky Derby:
In a year when the coronavirus pandemic has canceled everything from classes to concerts, we are grateful for the continuity of one tradition that has been uninterrupted for the past 145 years — the Kentucky Derby.
Dating back to 1875, the Run for the Roses is the longest continually held sporting event in the country. However, this year’s version, which was postponed from May to the first Saturday in September, will be a stark contrast to years past.
Most notably missing from Saturday’s festivities will be fans in the stands. Originally, the derby, which typically draws a crowd of 155,000-plus to Churchill Downs, was intending to allow 23,000 socially distanced, masked fans to watch the Triple Crown race in person. However, those plans were scrapped due to a rise in COVID-19 cases in and near Louisville.
Known as “the most exciting two minutes in sports,” the derby was held during the Great Depression and two World Wars, but the 146th running will be the first time the race will be run without spectators.
Gone will be the women clad in their best derby hats sipping mint juleps, the party-packed infield and thunderous crowd roar as the horses enter the final straightaway. Yet, many traditions will continue this year.
There will still be the ceremonious “riders up” in the paddocks and the bugle call to the post — those 34 notes in the key of C that mean the next race is about 10 minutes away.
But one of the most sentimental moments will likely happen during the pre-race parade when the state song, “My Old Kentucky Home,” will be played as the horses head to the starting gates. The song’s theme of returning home resonates with listeners who are able to personally relate the words to their own lives.
In a year when hard times have come “a-knocking at the door,” we are appreciative of traditions that continue. However, we will also be thinking of the more than 900 Kentuckians lost to the coronavirus.
“We will sing one song for the old Kentucky home,
For the old Kentucky home far away.”
The Daily Independent on the benefits of an arts education:
For decades, arts education has been tenuous in public schools. Some offered students more opportunity than others, but the arts have not been a priority for most.
That’s unfortunate, because an arts education supports creativity and reasoning in other subjects, while giving students an emotional outlet.
Edutopia.com says, based on years of research, an arts education is “closely linked to almost everything we as a nation say we want for our children and demand from our schools: academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement and equitable opportunity.”
The Brookings Institute found almost as soon as motor skills are developed, children communicate through artistic expression.
The arts open minds and teach empathy, something lacking in society today.
“Empirical evidence supports these claims: Among adults, arts participation is related to behaviors that contribute to the health of civil society, such as increased civic engagement, greater social tolerance, and reductions in other-regarding behavior,” The Brookings Institute found.
An Ashland musician recognizes the need for the arts in schools and has done something about it.
Kathleen Chamis, who has announced her retirement, has spent more than 40 years educating the young and old about music.
The violinist for the Huntington Symphony Orchestra and Marshall Symphony Orchestra also taught lessons from her home and presented recitals in the area. Some of her students have gone on to perform in the Marshall Symphony Orchestra, the Tri-State Youth Orchestra and the Charleston Cadet Orchestra. She also has volunteered to perform at nursing homes and at her church.
A little-known contribution Chamis made was her No Child Left Behind program in Boyd County Schools, which was spurred by President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind program, signed into law in 1992. The program, geared toward children with working parents, allowed her to teach after-school violin lessons at elementary and middle schools in the area. At least one other state has asked her to establish the program in their school system.
Chamis is to be commended on her lifetime of work. She said she has loved every minute of her career in music. It shows in her enthusiasm, creativity and achievement.
She also said she is enjoying retirement. After 40 years of promoting, supporting and teaching music, it is a well-deserved break.
The Daily News on the Kentucky High School Athletic Association affirming its July position by voting to allow practice for fall sports:
The familiar sights and sounds of sports practice returned to fields and gyms across the state this week.
The Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s Board of Control affirmed its plan last week to move ahead with its plan to begin fall sports practice for cross country, field hockey, football, soccer and volleyball. After weeks and weeks of conditioning work and limited drills in limited numbers, teams finally began preparing in earnest for a season that has been very much in doubt since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic effectively shut down in-person school instruction along with most athletic competition back in March.
The KHSAA board’s decision did not come without much thoughtful discussion, but the ultimate vote of 16-2 very much reflected the thinking of the vast majority of schools in the state that giving kids the opportunity to once more compete – with all the physical, mental and social benefits that provides – was a chance worth taking in what are still uncertain times.
That decision was not final – Gov. Andy Beshear along with the Kentucky Department of Education and the Kentucky Department of Public Health had to sign off on the plan.
During Monday’s news briefing, Beshear announced he would not overturn the Board of Control’s decision.
“Let me start by saying we’re not going to overturn that decision, and it’s not because I think that it is a good decision or a wise decision, but if we’re going to defeat this virus, we need people other than me, all over Kentucky, taking responsibility to make good and wise decisions,” Beshear said.
“I have concerns ... that by starting with some of the most high-contact sports, we risk a shortened season, that we risk what I think can be successful plans to get our kids back in school, that we risk every other sport that’s going to follow, but we can’t be making every decision for what’s best for folks out of the governor’s office. It’s going to be incumbent on our superintendents, on coaches, on the different groups to make the wisest decisions that they can.”
That is the right call, empowering school districts on the local level to assess their own circumstances in relation to the epidemic and make their own decisions.
So now Kentucky joins with most neighboring states in forging ahead with fall sports. It remains uncertain whether seasons will continue without potential interruption, but other options including shifting fall sports to the spring or a hybrid winter-spring model offer no more guarantees while further disrupting the normalcy of competition for student-athletes. Competition for fall sports except football begins Sept. 7, with football opening with games Sept. 11.
For the seniors especially, there will be no opportunity for a do-over or a make-up. Some have aspirations of competing athletically at the collegiate level, and this may well be their last, best chance at achieving those goals. For most, this will likely be their final opportunity to make lasting memories of competing athletically as part of a team, with all the lessons and experiences that can provide.
This extends to the collegiate level as well. While some NCAA Division I conferences including the Big Ten and Pac-12 have decided to try and postpone the fall season until the spring, others are attempting to carry on with at least some fall sports. In Conference USA as well as the SEC, ACC and the Big 12, that means football in the fall is still the plan. Western Kentucky is scheduled to open its season Sept. 12 at Louisville before returning to Houchens-Smith Stadium on Sept. 19 for its home opener against Liberty.
There is still much to work out in regard to fan attendance at both high school and college venues, and there are certain to be precautions in place related to social distancing and mask requirements. It will look and feel different, as so much does these days.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing – the risks of contracting COVID-19 are inherent, and the controlled atmosphere of school likely even decreases that for student-athletes. The benefits of competition are undeniable, and this is a limited window to play for most. We applaud the decisions of the KHSAA and some college conferences to try and preserve those potentially once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for student-athletes.