Golf has been a godsend for those who have been stuck inside.

Running, walking and biking seem to be more popular than ever since we were put under house arrest by COVID-19.

Fishing will be another important step as society gradually begins leaving the house again. Hopefully, youth sports get a chance to occur in June, or at least July.

But come August, there needs to be football: pro, college, high school and youth.

The coronavirus pandemic wiped out the end of the winter sports season and all of the spring, and now, there’s the limbo of the upcoming summer, with no one certain about the future of youth softball, baseball and soccer.

But when the days grow a little shorter, and the leaves start to turn, football is king.

Adam Thielen said this week that he is training as if there will be an NFL season. To no one’s surprise, he’s choosing to be prepared to give himself the best opportunity for success. The increased interest in the NFL draft last month shows how important professional football is to the fans.

At Minnesota State, football has become the most successful sport on the athletic menu. The Mavericks have been a factor in the national playoffs almost every season since 2014, twice advancing to the championship game, and have built an energetic following that savors a Saturday afternoon in the sun, watching football, even at Blakeslee Stadium.

However, all athletic camps at Minnesota State have been pushed back to at least July. The 7-on-7 football league has been a popular, important tool for high-schoolers to get ready for the season, and hopefully that can be rescheduled for July. Football camps are an important recruiting tool for all universities, luring prospective players to campus, and you’d have to say that the Mavericks have been very good at recruiting for the last decade.

High-school football is the unofficial end of summer/kickoff for fall that is important to the sports fans, who scramble to find gloves, scarves and blankets. Nothing brings a school and community together quite like Friday night football, and those events would be sorely missed, by athletes, coaches, fans and sportswriters alike.

The popular and enjoyable youth football season is where it all begins, when hundreds of Randy Moss and Brett Favre wannabes strap on the pads and helmets. So many youngsters get their first exposure to the game through the youth program, learning the basics about safety, teamwork and competition.

Football might be the last sport to get restarted, given the unavoidable contact for the athletes and the difficulty with social distancing for the fans in the grandstand. It’s going to be tricky, but hopefully, the sacrifices made now will allow things to be more normal, with students returning to school buildings, in the fall.

Golf and fishing have been sanity-saving diversions during the last month as staring at the wall has become a hobby and guessing the day of the week is a brain teaser.

Come fall, there needs to be football: pro, college, high school and youth.

Chad Courrier is a Free Press staff writer. To contact him, call 507-344-6353, email at ccourrier@mankatofreepress.com or follow his Twitter feed @ChadCourrier.

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