I’m sure many of you remember the late Tim Edwards. He was Parker’s Public Works Director for a number of years. A few years ago, he was placed in charge of the high school seniors who would be playing the role of the Parker Town Council on Elks’ Youth Day.
Edwards gave the young people an assignment for a work session. He gave them a list of streets in the town that needed work. The list included the scope of the work needed, and how much it would cost.
He then told them how much money they had. Of course, it wasn’t anywhere close to being able to pay for all the work that was needed. The students would need to discuss the matter and come to a consensus on what work was most important and what work could wait.
Edwards made a point of telling the students there were no right or wrong answers here. There were just hard choices and tough decisions. He wanted them to understand the sorts of decisions that elected officials have to make. Those decisions aren’t always easy, and they mean someone is going to be unhappy.
You see, it’s easy to be critical of the decisions elected officials and other “decision makers” have to make. However, it’s not so easy if you’re the one who has to make those decisions.
I was thinking of this in regards to the Arizona Interscholastic Association and their decision to cancel the winter sports season and their subsequent reversal of that decision. The AIA’s Director, David Hines, said some members of the Executive Board had been harassed and even threatened over the decision Jan. 8 to cancel winter sports.
I watched the board’s meeting Jan. 12 where they reconsidered and eventually reversed that decision. All the board members raised valid points about whether winter sports should be held or if the season should be cancelled. It was not an easy decision. One could see many of the board members were torn in trying to decide what to do.
In the end, what came out of meeting was they all wanted what’s best for Arizona’s young people and our student athletes. They just disagreed on what that should be.
The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything in the nation and the world. Arizona leads the world in the rate of new cases. La Paz County has seen 2,000 cases in a county of just 22,000 people. Only a fool would take this pandemic lightly. Hard choices need to be made.
Deciding on whether high school athletes should be able to play winter sports is just one of the many hard decisions that have to be made.
It’s worth noting there will be many more restrictions on winter sports than there were on fall sports. These include mask requirements for athletes, coaches, officials and spectators, as well as restrictions on attendance. When asked to explain these new restrictions, Hines said they were because the situation in the state is so much worse now that it was when fall sports started.
How much worse? On Sept. 26, just a few days before the start of fall sports, there had been 217,000 cases in Arizona and 5,622 deaths. On Jan. 16, there have been 667,000 cases and over 11,200 deaths. In other words, more than two-thirds of the cases and half the deaths in the state have been in the last four months.
THAT’s how much worse.
As I said, there are no easy decisions here. You can be certain that other entities are having to make these same choices. The burden of responsibility is heavy, and even more so now with this pandemic.
Here’s a thought along those lines I want to leave you with. I’ve been around a lot of elected officials over the years, and I’ve reached a conclusion. Nearly all the elected officials I’ve known have agreed with this: it’s much easier to run for public office than it is to actually serve in public office.