Though we are all supposed to be hunkered down indoors, there was a palpable sense of relief across social media today just before noon, when the CIAC issued a release stating its intent to postpone and not cancel the spring sports season.
After an online meeting with close to 70 people, including sports administrators and school superintendents and principals, the state’s governing body for high school sports sent out a statement that read in part, “CIAC reached a consensus that canceling the entirety of the spring sports season is premature at this time. There is a strong desire to provide student athletes some spring athletic experience if possible.”
It was a common-sense move: there is no need at this time to make the extreme decision of putting the locks on the 2019-2020 sports year. Many of the same people that were protesting at the CIAC’s doorstep only a week ago were singing its praises today. Or at least not criticizing the organization.
Are those protests really just seven days in the rear-view mirror? It seems more like seven years.
Ironically, the forces behind the decision to end the winter sports season last week are the same ones behind today’s determination not to cancel.
The CIAC had no choice last week. Schools were preventing their teams from continuing to compete in playoff games and pulling out of making their gyms available for neutral-site contests. (I highly recommend listening to this podcast I recorded today with CIAC executive director Glenn Lungarini for more.)
If, during the meeting this morning, schools again opted to end their teams’ seasons, this time at the starting line, the CIAC would have made the same determination as last week.
“We want to exhaust every possibility that we may have upon kids returning to school to be able to provide a spring sports experience,” Lungarini said during an early-afternoon teleconference with the media. “If our schools don’t return that would be a threshold that we would not be able to play. We are not setting any sort of date for return to play nor are we setting any specific date or threshold at this time that would cancel the season. We are open to all possibilities to providing our kids a spring experience.”
Basically, all decisions were tabled until, hopefully, there is a clearer view of a fluid situation.
If it seemed unusual Lungarini spent as much time as he did stressing social distancing, it is because the message is not being heard. There is too much social gathering still going on, and distancing right now is the best weapon against the coronavirus. It cannot be trumpeted enough.
Lungarini guessed the next meeting about spring sports would occur next week.
For now, the CIAC offered hope. And for high school athletes — and everyone else in these uncertain times — that is not an insignificant gift.