My Point

The CIAC’s Ultimate Decision Is The Right One

Ridgefield’s Owen Gaydos tries to get by Staples’ Miles Scarfo during a game last September.

I’m at a loss to remember the last time there was a more impassioned topic played out on social media regarding high school sports in the state than the status of the fall season. It is unfortunate this has been stretched out so far, three weeks after the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s release of a plan for an abbreviated and regionalized season.

My Twitter posts have been getting more comments and questions, so my apologies for not responding to any. I guess I have opted not to inflame or ignite longer discussions on the platform.

But with a final resolution from the CIAC coming I am guessing tomorrow, I thought I would weigh in. Before doing so, from all my talks I don’t think Glenn Lungarini, the CIAC’s executive director, can honestly tell you right now what will happen. The CIAC’s Board of Control will meet late this afternoon with the Department of Public Health.

The Board of Control voted last Wednesday to go forward with the CIAC’s plan. The CIAC has been in constant contact with its medical experts. The DOH responded last Thursday with a letter to the CIAC recommending that football and girls volleyball get moved to the spring and all other sports delayed.

So what is the correct answer? There is none. And so I say whatever the CIAC ultimately determines is the right decision. This isn’t playing both sides to make everyone happy. There is no guidebook. We can’t go by what happened in the last pandemic.

I think we should wait until school has been in session for two weeks before introducing extracurricular activities. Make sure everything is still safe.

Right now the cases on both sides are compelling. The lone argument I don’t agree with is any everyday life event, like driving a car, being more dangerous. It is not apples to apples.

Please, try to put your passions aside, as hard as that may be. It has been five months without a return to the normalcy we all badly crave. I get it. I understand the benefits that will come with a fall sports season. My business depends on it. I also don’t think I have ever been sickened more in my life with there not being enough of an outcry about 170,000 deaths in this country from the coronavirus due in large part to inaction. Hearing about 1,000-1,500 new ones daily seems to have become a figure as accepted as the S&P 500.

The lets-play side makes a reasonable case. The health metrics are positive and we don’t know if they will still be that way in the spring. Sports are important to the mental well being of all athletes. Summer travel and club play were conducted without incidents. You don’t want to possibly deny seniors from a final year of playing sports with friends they have shared a sideline with since childhood. Without a season some athletes could be denied an opportunity to play in college.

It is difficult to dispute any of these points.

At the same time, just because the health metrics are positive, do we want to risk our status as one of the safer states in the country? The physical well-being of students are the most important factor. Academics need to be taken into account before athletics, and we first need to worry about introducing in-school learning.

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It is difficult to dispute any of these points.

Organized by a group of FCIAC football parents, there was a Zoom call yesterday between Gov. Ned Lamont’s Chief of Staff and a group comprised of almost every state football community demographic, with the voice of players, coaches and administrators also represented. They made a strong case.

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Lungarini received at the CIAC’s office in Cheshire this morning football players from a number of schools that wanted the chance to have a say.

On the other side, some of my colleagues in the state have written columns against having a fall season and been attacked. Their commentaries have been well thought out. They are guilty only of not writing what some want to read.

I don’t know what the right answer is. And neither does anyone else. I wish any superintendent that is not going to permit their schools to participate would say so now ahead of the CIAC’s decision, as a number have. Some may be hoping for cover from the CIAC. Many, I have been told, are so consumed by opening schools that sports have not yet been discussed.

If the CIAC thinks we should stick to the plan, well if we are not going to try and play now, short of a vaccine when will the outlook be any more positive? If ultimately sports get moved to the spring, you can’t fault erring on the side of caution.

So when we get word from the CIAC, you won’t be reading here how they made the right or wrong call.

Because we just don’t know.