Texas is swinging open all its double doors a week from today.

Mississippi too. I'd bet Georgia is not too far away either.

Texas officials announced that mask mandates will end March 10 and all businesses can operate at 100% capacity. Heck, TFP ace sports columnist and college basketball savant Mark Wiedmer details the announcements that several college basketball conference tournaments will allow limited numbers of fans. You know the rules.

(Side note: Here's betting the NCAA, which is also allowing partial crowds into its bubblized bracket in and around Indy, is not too keen on the conference tournaments doing exactly what the NCAA plans on doing. Because if the 25% capacity at the Big Ten tournament infects Michigan or Illinois, well, buckle up for a 1 seed getting cancelled by the COVID.)

OK, there are going to be a lot of folks, like Weeds, who are questioning these decisions.

I understand that. But I also see and understand some of the reasons on the other side of the discussion as we try to balance hope and hopelessness.

Because we're also trying to balance our physical and fiscal well-being here. If we do everything in our power not to politicize this for the 3,203rd time, the restaurants in Texas, the night clubs in Mississippi and the college conferences across the country are hemorrhaging money.

On one side, there is the concern for people's lives. The other is a real commitment to people's way of life, and trying to find ways to restart the economy is paramount for our society.

Weeds noted that the limited numbers of fans "isn't going to do much to  refill the coffers of those leagues" and having 2,000 in Nashville or 500 in Asheville is small potatoes compared to the normal numbers. And that's accurate, but you can still eat those small potatoes, and that's way better than starving to death.

The economic impact on sports in particular has been devastating, and it's far from done. Take the MLB for example. The AJC reported that the Braves revenue fell by almost $300 million last year, a number that is staggering and to be expected across the sport since commissioner Rob Manfred said loss projections for the entire 30-team league will be right at $3 billion. Think the Braves would eschew having any sort of attendance rather than none? And the ripples will be felt for years to come as the plummeting TV numbers will affect TV-rights deals for a decade as well as the looming labor talks for the MLB after this season and the NBA after the 2022-23 season.

It's the same for the conference tournaments, especially since the NCAA has already announced that there will be 25% capacity at the centralized Madness. And to pretend the money is not the catalyst for having a season anyway is a fool's errand. (Side note: Weeds' stroll down basketball memory lane in today's column was excellent. Strike that; it's was dag-nabbing perfect. Hey Mark, extremely well done today my man. Pull this one aside for contests. Seriously.)

Is this too soon for all of it, from Texas to technicals? Maybe. Heck, it probably is.  

But no matter when we reopen or decide to allow fans in the stands or whatever next step we'll have to take, be it next week, next month or next year, there will be experts saying "It's too soon." Side note: I'm not sure why Texas has to go all or nothing. Could we not reopen and keep the mask mandate in place?

Because, even amid the great news of President Biden announcing earlier this week that we should have enough vaccines for every American adult by the end of May, how many among us are going to refuse to get the shot? And yes, we have asked that before, but that question — and what kind of restrictions are placed on attending events and/or establishments to those who are not vaccinated — will become more and more common with each passing day.

Plus, the decision to reopen Texas is not a requirement. If/when the mandates are lifted where you live, you can still wear a mask and you can still order take-out or only eat at places with outdoor dining. Your personal safety and comfort is a personal decision.

(Side note: And again, not sure why we can't allow Aunt Betty's Hair and Nails in Amarillo to have every seat full AND have those folks in masks. Side note on the side note: A huge part of the problem our divide has left all of us with is the all-too-consistent decision of using 'or' rather than 'and' in policy, speech and practice. Far too often it's one or the other rather than part and piece, you know?)

I will still wear a mask for the foreseeable future. I have avoided eating in restaurants and will continue to do so. But I can provide for my family from the island in my kitchen where I do almost all of my writing. Others in myriad industries — and across all levels, from the mailroom to the boardroom and the busboy to the small business owner — are desperate to get back to work and get people back in the daily transactions that keep America working, spending, and prospering.  

I also will get vaccinated as soon as I am allowed to. But I don't see how we can legally force everyone to get the shot(s) either.


Dr. Suess

Yep, Dr. Suess got got Tuesday. The printing folks that keep the Cat in the Hat humming and put Green Eggs and Ham on shelves around the world have discontinued six of the Doctor's books because they are viewed as racially insensitive.

Times change and viewpoints are altered. A lot of times that's for the better. Sometimes it's an overreaction for a small percentage of folks who make a large percentage of the complaints.

Hey, whatever. Mr. Potato Head was in the spotlight before Dr. Suess, and according to various reports I have seen detailing the decision about the six Suess books, Babar and Curious George are next as each promotes 'colonialism' and to quote the AP story linked above, "Critics also have faulted the "Curious George" books for their premise of a white man bringing home a monkey from Africa."

Wow that escalated in a hurry.

Let me say this on the front end: I am against banning/discontinuing books. For two reasons: One the historical prism always changes, and we need the references to those periods so we can learn from it. Huck Finn comes to mind. Haley's Roots does too. Mitchell's GWTW as well. Secondly, these are avenues into conversations with children on what is appropriate and what's not.  

It's easy to understand some of the things that raised eyebrows in Dr. Suess' books. Truly. (And don't you know when the drums start banging for PBS to end George, you know they will bend the knee quicker than Tom Brady in the victory formation.)

But bigger picture, why isn't all of Dr. Suess' works being banished, because it's not like this was a one-off. It's in six of the fewer than 50 titles? Again, I hope that doesn't happen, but where's the line here, no matter how poignant "Oh, The Places You'll Go!" may be and how environmentally friendly The Lorax was.


13th grade

So the commonwealth of Kentucky voted unanimously to allow high school students an extra year.

This side of David Wooderson, who would choose another year of high school?

Part of the bill also allows for an extra year of extracurricular activities, which means high school athletes are getting a red-shirt season.

I don't understand the logic behind even the need of this. Yes, if kids missed enough education that it impacted them, of course they should get every chance to make up that missed learning.

But this feels a lot like overkill and my middle schooler trying to do the NYT crossword. It's confusing and frustrating.

Are all current high schoolers now going to get five years? What will this do to the recruiting process because a 19-year-old Kentucky athlete is going to be more physically mature than an 18-year-old Indiana athlete? Can I be a senior in Tennessee and transfer to Kentucky and be a fifth-year senior there?

It appears that it applies to all students, so there's that.

Am I missing something?


This and that

— Saw this story that the Geena Davis Institute has studied the portrayal of Black women in TV and movies, and I was just as surprised as you are that Geena Davis has her own institute. You go Thelma. Or Louise. Whichever one you were.  

— Also saw that in interviews getting folks ready for Coming 2 America, Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall have said studio execs made them cast at least one white person in the original, and that's how Louie Anderson got a role in the classic comedy. The irony of this in terms of the racial discourse is mighty intriguing don't you think?

— The more details of the $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus package I see, the more angry I get. What a Trojan Horse for free money to the masses. More than $20K to federal employees because other state and federal employees closed schools?

— Thought this was interesting. At least one former MLB executive thinks Albert Pujols, who has seen his production plummet since signing the Angels, lied about his age. "There is not one person in baseball, not one executive, who believes Albert Pujols is the age that he says he is," former Marlins GM David Samson told Dan Le Batard. "The amount of fraud that was going on in the Dominican back in the day, the changing of names, the changing of birthdays, it would blow your mind."

— Man this is going to be a testy conversation at family dinner as a Nike VP resigned because her son was running an illegal sneaker resale business.  

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall on the Bulldogs big-time WRs.

— Johnny Manziel is going to spend the next 10 years trying to make the PGA Tour. So there's that.


Today's question

Which way Wednesday starts this way:

Which mayoral candidate in the run-off — Tim Kelly or Kim White — will prevail?

If you could have added an extra year in high school, would you have?

Which character in Coming to America (the original) is your favorite?

Which word would say best describes Manziel's plan to become Johnny Golf Ball?

As for today, it's March 3 — or 3/3. My sone's number was always 3. I always think of Dale Murphy and Dale Earnhardt when I think of 3. And the Babe eventually.

Rodney King was beaten on this day in 1991.

Moonlighting debuted on this day in 1985. That show deserved more credit, in my opinion.

Alexander Graham Bell was born on this day.
In honor of Coming 2 America, Rushmore best comedy sequels. Go and remember the mailbag.