Good news came out of Columbia on Wednesday.
The South Carolina High School League's executive committee, by a vote of 8-5, finally gave in and allowed football teams to go in full pads during seven of the 10 days they are allowed to practice in the spring.
To understand why the decision is important, here's what former Rock Hill High School coach Jim Ringer used to tell me.
"We need to hurry up and put the pads on so we can start hitting," he'd say. "It's the only way we're going to find out which of our young players like contact. Everybody looks good in shorts and helmets, but you separate the boys from the men when you start hitting.''
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Until Wednesday, that happened in August on the fourth day of preseason practice.
The new decision is a good one on several fronts.
Naturally, the spring will give coaches a head start so they can mull over which kids should play when August rolls around.
Football is finally getting a fair shake. Football without pads? That's like basketball without a rim.
But there is a bigger picture to consider. Closing the gap just a slight bit is what all football coaches have asked for.
Because of AAU ball and traveling teams, baseball, basketball, soccer, softball and volleyball players can play nearly year-round. That's great if that's what they choose to do.
Basketball teams go to summer camps and can play as many games as they choose for a week. They have preseason tournaments and holiday tournaments. And there's nothing wrong with either of those opportunities.
Football? It's played once a week, there is a preseason period where teams can scrimmage four times, and 10 days of spring practice, which just got improved.
There are no year-round football teams and coaches encourage their players to become involved in other sports at their schools. And without a doubt, football pays the bills for extras the other teams ask for.
Am I defending football? No. Am I happy football teams are finally getting a nugget thrown at them? Yes.
And while we're asking questions, how about throwing in another jewel? Let the teams have a spring game on the 10th day of spring practice. Charge $2 a person and let fans come out to watch just like college teams do.
Might sound kinda far-fetched, but it makes sense. With prices for equipment -- in all sports -- and gas skyrocketing, every extra dollar helps.
Let's not forget about another ruling that came down Wednesday.
Clemson has been granted a one-year contract to host championship football games in Classes AA, AAA and AAAA this year. Only Class A will play at another site.
Thoughts? You be the judge.
I was in Clemson when Northwestern beat Gaffney 2-0 in the 1993 Big 16 state championship game. I was back in 1996 when Spartanburg beat Rock Hill 28-6.
The folks over there were great to work with, were there in the press box to help any way they could. And even if you pull for South Carolina, Clemson easily has one of the best football atmospheres in the country.
But why move the games there? It's not fair for fans of Lower State teams to travel that far. There will likely be many who would have driven to Columbia, but not to Clemson, because of the distance.
USC's Williams-Brice Stadium is a central location and the championships should stay there. And for those who think playing there gives USC a recruiting edge for in-state players, it doesn't look like Clemson lost that battle to USC this year.
The Tigers racked up on high-profile players from inside the state lines.
For reference, Google Da'Quan Bowers. You'll be hearing that name a lot in coming years.