Basketball players will be required to wear masks when their pandemic-shortened season begins later this month, at least according to the latest modifications from the Colorado High School Activities Association.
Wrestlers will not be required to wear masks when in one-on-one situations, either in practice or in an actual competition. They will be required to wear masks when in individual drills.
“Inconsistency (with the mask rules) is one of the frustrations,” YHS athletic director Michael Dischner said.
He said he still held out hope the mask requirement for basketball players would be lifted. He said school district superintendents are scheduled to meet virtually with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment today, January 14.
Also, do not expect many spectators to be allowed for basketball games and wrestling matches in “Season B.”
Practices officially begin Monday, January 18, with the openings of the seasons the following week.
CHSAA worked with the CDPHE to obtain variances so indoor sports such as hoops and wrestling could take place this winter.
“I just hope people realize this doesn’t come from the school,” Dischner said.
While securing the variances opens the door for the students to compete and end seasons with champions being crowned, which Dischner noted is the top priority, it still keeps the door shut for the vast majority of those who would like to witness the competitions in-person.
Dischner said all the Lower Platte Activities Association athletic directors have been working together to have a uniform plan for enforcement in place. They have formulated a letter for all their superintendents.
One issue is the mask requirement while playing basketball games. The ADs are noting that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has stated masks should not be worn during strenuous activity.
Readers be warned, this is a multi-layered subject, so we are going to split this up into “non-essential” and “essential” sections.
The maximum number of “non-essential” people at a competition is 50. Dischner said the LPAA has decided to split that number between both home and visiting schools, 25 for each. There had been discussions about dedicating the 50 spots just to home teams, but Dischner said the decision was made to split it since parents of high school students don’t have many chances left to watch their children, particularly parents of seniors.
Non-essential was going to include fans, media, spirit, band, and members of the other levels of teams — for example, C-team players wanting to watch the varsity game would count against the 50 total, or varsity players wanting to watch the JV game.
The alternative was to have the players not playing to be in a classroom with a coach in there with them, Dischner said, freeing up space for family members witnessing their kids’ game. (Of course, for home teams, the players simply could show up when it is time for their game, though there always are some the crossover among the levels, such as JV players also on varsity, and C-team players also on JV.)
The non-essential rule is the same for wrestling. Therefore, if both schools in a dual have a full complement of 14 wrestlers, there will have to be some juggling as far as non-essential people in the gym — such as splitting a dual into the first seven matches, and then the next seven. However, it might not be an issue often, as many schools do not fill all the weights, though the schedule does include a lot of triangulars and quadrangulars, which will require juggling among each dual.
However, Dischner reported late Tuesday that after a meeting with the Northeast Colorado Health Department, it was agreed that leaving non-participating players in the stands, instead of in the classroom, is better, so it appears they will not count against the total of 50 spectators.
“To me, pulling them out of a wide-open gymnasium and putting them in a classroom is not as safe as leaving them in the gym where they can spread out,” he said.
Dischner also pointed out that players from all levels ride the same bus to contests, practice together and are in the same “cohorts” so allowing them to watch a different level of contests in a gymnasium does not seem to pose any extra risk.
Then there was the issue of media being among the “non-essential” category. Dischner noted that with such a small number allowed to witness in person, even more people than usual will be dependent upon listening on the radio, or watching the live stream, and even reading about the contests and seeing photos in the newspapers. (The Pioneer plans on having reports of wrestling matches and basketball games on its website, yumapioneer.com, and mobile app the same evening of the contests. One can download the Pioneer app on their smartphones for free at Google Play or the App Store. The mobile app also provides live “notifications.” The Pioneer’s Facebook and Instagram accounts will provide live updates.)
Allowing media into the contests as “non-essential” attendees would cut down on the number of family members could attend, though it mainly would just impact varsity contests.
However, once again, Dischner reported late Tuesday that the NCHD has agreed to one newspaper person, one radio person and one livestream person per team not counting toward the 50 fans.
It is unlikely there will be a pep band at competitions, nor cheerleaders, and definitely no student body — besides fellow team members — to cheer on their friends and schoolmates during Season B, since they would count among the 50 non-essential people at a contest.
While unfortunate, again the main goal is to allow the student/athletes themselves to have a chance to have a season.
Considered essential for wrestling and basketball are the competitors, limited to 12 maximum per team, a maximum of three coaches, one athletic trainer, game-table personnel, the game administrator, a team manager, ticket takers, and the team video-grapher.
They do not count against the 50 “non-essential” people allowed to attend.
Each level of basketball can keep their total to 12 players rather easily.
However, as mentioned above, if a wrestling team fills all 14 weights, the dual would have to be split into seven weights, and then the other seven weights, or when one is done with their match, they rotate out of the gym and others come in.
Even if parents have male and female students involved in basketball or wrestling, they might have to choose which they want to watch, or take up one of the few spectator spots at both even when not in attendance at one while watching the other.
There will be game lists for each level of competition.
Dischner said the plan is there will be 25 minutes between each basketball team. After a contest, the gyms will be cleared, and 10 minutes will be spent disinfecting the seating and bench areas.
Then, those on the gate list for the next game will be allowed into the gymnasium, which in Yuma will be either The Pit or the new Aux Pit. (Shout-out to Dischner for coming up with Aux Pit for YHS’s new auxiliary gymnasium. He has agreed to allow the Pioneer to refer to it as Aux Pit — which we asked since it was his creation as a hashtag on a Twitter post, and we have agreed to give him full credit, though he never asked for it.)
Those at one game, but not on the gate list for the next game simply will have to leave. Those with children on multiple levels that play one after the other, could just hang out in the YHS Commons between games, or go do something else then come back. The two cohorts in basketball that has a one-game delay is girls basketball that play JV, usually the first game of a “six-pack” and also C-team, usually the last game, along with JV boys, usually the first game, and Varsity boys, the last game of the six-pack.
Dischner told the Pioneer there likely will not be any concessions at contests held at YHS, considering there will have to be disinfecting done between contests in the gymnasiums without also having to deal with the concession area.
Junior high sports
Wrestling and girls basketball are going to get their seasons the same time as high school wrestling and basketball.
The same protocols and such are in place — except in junior high all 50 “non-essential” spots for a contest are reserved for the home team.
Yes, that means parents will not be able to attend their children’s away contests, while in high school it is a 25-25 split between each school.
Dischner explained that the thinking is that in high school the parents’ time to watch their kids is running short, while in junior high the time frame is not as critical. Parents, and more, will at least to get to watch all of their kids’ home games, and their kids will get to have a season.