This is going to seem like it’s all over the place. Well, actually it will be. That’s the way my brain works sometimes. Or not at all.

Yes, we’re starting high school sports. Yes, some people are going to be upset. Some will be upset because we’re playing. Some will be upset because they can’t get into the games.

TSSAA has recommended that admission to games be limited to 25 to 33% of the capacity of the arena. Different schools are accomplishing that in different ways. But the bottom line is that there will be some people that want to see a game that can’t get in.

That’s unfortunate but a necessary ingredient to even being able to start the sports seasons. Don’t even ask me about the colleges. I have no idea what they’re going to end up doing. I just know you can’t pack a stadium with people right now and not expect bad consequences.

As I said earlier, dealing with the heat takes a new approach. Methods that we’ve used in the past (ice towels, ice baths) aren’t viable now. So we deal with it with what we have available to us. Hydrating properly using both water and sports drinks. Taking frequent breaks. Watching each other closely to look for signs of difficulty in dealing with the heat.

Acclimatization is huge. You can’t go from the air conditioner to all day in the heat and hope to be successful. I’ve suggested in the past that families participate in the acclimatization process by setting the thermostat higher (effectively turning the air conditioner down) but I’m pretty sure that there weren’t many people willing to live that message.

We don’t need to flock to the beach or congregate in large groups to enjoy where we live. There are still lots of options for getting into the great outdoors and maintaining social distancing. Everything from easy trails to rigorous hikes are literally at our back door. Perry’s Mill is a beautiful place but there are other (and safer) places to find a swimming hole.

You don’t have to join the hordes tubing the Little River. There are other options. My daughter and her family found a great adventure in tubing Panther Creek. Speaking of Little River, I reluctantly tubed it with my grandkids last summer for the first time. The kids all enjoyed it.

My own kids complained that they were never allowed to tube the Little River. They grew up in canoes and on whitewater and I never gave it a thought to sit in an inner tube and float down a pastoral creek. Grandchildren tend to make you do some things that you might not have otherwise.

Yet, there is no doubt that there is a serious environmental impact on the Little River from all the tubing. Something has to be done. The Little River is such a blessing to our community that we need to protect it. Even moving and stacking rocks upsets an ecosystem that is much more fragile than we could know.

We tend to ignore a lot of things about the environment in the name of personal freedom. Being concerned about the environment might get us called “tree huggers” but that is really just taking care of the world we live in. We build houses where the environmental impact is huge. We use pesticides and insecticides often and in mass quantities as if we want to live in a world without any bugs.

In the mountains, I’ve seen trails so eroded as to be almost impassable. Don’t get me started on the Cades Cove traffic jam. Vehicles belching smoke when routine maintenance might prevent that completely. Trash containers full of plastic bottles that should be recycled.

Our world is different now and will be forever. Maybe this pandemic will be a wake up call for us to take better care of each other and better care of the world we live in.

I sure hope so.

Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Blount Memorial Hospital’s Total Rehabilitation. Write to Joe at

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