Everyone wants to talk about “getting back to normal” until it’s time to actually take the steps necessary to get back to normal. 

Normal — I would like to point out — is a relative term. Along the lines of “being politically correct” and “all-you-can-eat” buffet. 

Yes Mom, it’s going to be one of those columns. 

All those jingoist phrases mean different things to different people. 

To me, normal means sports sans politics. To others, it’s messages on the backs of jerseys or large displays of buzzwords of the day with a Nike logo at the bottom because the phrase has been trademarked and someone is collecting on the profits. 

But I want this column to be published so I am going to veer away from the lane of controversy and focus on things more state specific; predominantly the fact Alabama high schools are going to have the chance to play football this fall — and volleyball and run cross country. 

Although, I never really understood cross country. 

Seriously, I knew several runners when I was at ol’ Troy State and they fell into two categories: weird fitness freaks or folks that needed to eat a biscuit or seven.

The Alabama High School Athletic Association last week released its plans to allow for sports this fall with the following caveat: All decisions regarding limitations, social distancing and the completion of the season at large will be on the local school systems. 

To me, this is the best approach the central board that governs the AHSAA could have taken because it has been proven that a one-size-fits-all measure does not work in this environment. 

What’s going on with the number of cases in Jefferson County will be different in Coffee County. 

Games are scheduled to start Aug. 20-21 and play through like normal. 

Listening to Golic and Wingo on the way to work, they’ve been talking about confidence levels in the start of things versus the finish of things. 

Right now, I’m 85% confident fall sports on the high school level will start. I’m 5% confident they will finish because this is an election year and the national climate will move to an increased level of discomfort as we move closer to November. 

But that could just be me and I could just be jaded and cynical. 

OK, realistically I know I am jaded and cynical. But I’ve also been on this planet long enough to see politics at play in every facet of culture in the months leading up to a national election. 

But enough with politics; we are going to focus back on sports. 

That’s really hard though as there are no good ways to separate the two. 

Just as the AHSAA made the announcement about fall sports — with nods to keeping the student-athletes, coaches and support personnel safe from the coronavirus — it was announced the schools were trying to figure out their guidelines to open(ish) for the fall. 

The opening of sports and the opening of schools are two completely different animals. 

Think of it like this: Athletics are the chickens in the pen, protected and grouped together; Schools are the free-range chickens running loose across the front yard clucking wildly. 

Essentially, the athletes have observed the safety protocols and have been working within the parameters while the students over in gen pop are not required to adhere to the same guidelines. 

In theory, yes, they are.

In reality, we all know some of those folks are from homes where asking to wear masks in public is tantamount to insulting Nick Saban, Dale Earnhardt and Donald bahgawd Trump. This means best practices are not being observed and the 10-year-old that’s a walking clump of weird smells and bacteria has now become a walking clump of weird smells, bacteria and possibly the ’Rona. 

Yay; I think I heard they were having a sale on Hazmat suits for teachers in a bunch of colors and patterns, just for the fall. 

But even on the professional level, as athletes segregate themselves, there are cracks in the foundation. Major League Baseball on Monday proved even the best practices seem to not be 100% as two series have been canceled already because of positive clusters. 

So where does that leave us in terms of returning to normal? 

There is no more normal. Sports will be back — are back — for as long as safely possible. 

I’m excited. I’m even more excited for high school sports to return because on that level the game is free of politics and is just sports. Whoever has the most points at the end of the day wins. Unless you’re a cross-country runner then it’s which skinny kid can out last the other skinny kids running through the woods on a given Saturday. 

Looks like a scene from “Lord of the Flies” but with better uniforms and Asics running shoes.

It’s that simple. 

Griffin Pritchard is a regular columnist and longtime correspondent for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.