My Point

The Key To Fall Sports? Masks. Distance. Hope.

It is surprising how many times in the past month I have been asked if I thought we would have a fall sports season. Then again, those inquiring had no idea science was my worst and least favorite subject.

People want an answer based on positivism, so my response has been the same: We all need to wear masks, stay socially distanced and hope for the best. It is pretty simple advice though as we have seen, not really simple.

While we are fortunate to live in a state that has been well served and for the most part taken the proper precautions, we need to remain resolute and not let our guard down. We have seen the results of leniency in other parts of the country.

After three months of quarantine and the late arrival of warm weather, the desire for normalcy is understandable. But the fact remains if we want to have a fall sports season, we must not succumb. Athletes and coaches. Just today, a high school sports administrator posted a photo on one of his social media accounts unmasked and not distant.

I come here not to lecture but to remind, on the first day the CIAC has allowed for summer conditioning. The last thing we want is a return to the spring, when the high school season went dark. Conservatism is even more important because sports practices and games now are inherently fraught with both unknowns and greater risks.

As colleges started workouts, a number of programs were hit hard by COVID-19 cases. Professional teams that just started training have also had athletes test positive.

It is foolish to think, though Connecticut has been something of a role model for other states, that we are going to bat 1.000. There are going to be some cases, and we will have to hope they are few and isolated.

Conditioning, along with summer league sports like lacrosse and softball resuming, is welcome as a trial run before high school training camps begin next month.

Because the next question is what exactly a fall sports season is going to look like. More specific, will all of the traditional sports get played or will some be moved?

There are already signs that college football is going to get moved to the spring. And coaches, after a number of players were sidelined with the coronavirus, are now hinting they would not only not have a problem with it, but they would prefer it.

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The Ivy League is supposed to make an announcement on Wednesday about the status of fall sports. Some coaches have hinted they expect all sports will be moved to the spring.

The CIAC said in the spring they will follow the guidance from both the governor and the schools, but would likely take an even more cautious approach. Safety of the athletes is of paramount importance. Trying to make sure every sport gets played at some point during the school year is next.

If colleges were to move football, would high schools follow suit? Certainly football is going to be the riskiest sport from a safety standpoint. Would it be better to move it to the spring to get guidance from the experiences of other sports.

This is not to suggest that the athletes in other sports should be treated like guinea pigs, or that other sports are less important. But given the extent of the unknowns, it just seems wiser to consider starting with sports that have the least amount of contact.

That opens up its own problems. Some two-sport athletes would be denied the chance to play both sports. A large number of football players also compete in lacrosse. Do you move lacrosse to the fall, or split the spring into a pair of two-month seasons? Will baseball and softball be played in the autumn?

And that doesn’t even get into the contingencies that need to be put in place if we are forced to quarantine again, or if individual schools are forced to. Do we forego league and state playoffs and hope to get as many scheduled games in as possible?

It is a vast unknown and will be a fluid situation for the foreseeable future. For now there are just a few certainties.

Masks. Distance. Hope.

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