By Tony Rayl, Yuma Pioneer
As professional sports leagues, college athletics, and states, try to open up again, and invariably end up with spikes in COVID-19 cases, I become less-and-less confident we can have high school and middle school athletics in the coming school year.
I hate to be Mr. Negativity; we have two children of our own in high school who desperately want to play sports in 2020-21. It would be terribly tough on them, not only because they would not be able to play the games they love, but also because they know I will make them go get a job to make some money for themselves, and give them something to do.
Anyway, I am finding it hard to fathom at this point that “normal” high school athletics will be held anytime in 2020, maybe later in 2021, but not this year.
Sure, you could probably pull off boys golf, but even the PGA Tour has run into COVID-19 problems since it resumed a few weeks ago. It should be relatively easy to have golf by keeping with social distancing, maybe wearing masks, and forsaking things such as pulling the flag on greens. However, golf involves playing a lot along the Front Range, where cases are more prevalent, and as we have seen over the past month this freakin’ COVID-19 likes to spread with even the slightest of invitations.
In cross country, the runners tend to spread out over the course of the race. However, everyone still begins bunched up together at the starting line (perhaps more staggered starts?) and even out on the course runners bunch together in smaller groups. What if you are right on the heels of someone who unknowingly has it, who is breathing heavily, and you are pulling in their COVID-19 particles? Maybe the odds are small, but are you willing to put your kid at that risk?
You would think one could pull off volleyball, in which teams stay on opposite sides of the net, but do get close with kill attempts and block attempts. Have a few game balls, clean each one after a volley, and make sure all players use hand sanitizer before and during the match. It could be possible, maybe. However, what about all the officials, some of whom are older and could fall into the at-risk group, as well as many of the coaches being longtime veteran coaches? Willing to put all of them at risk, just so your kids can play games?
We could go on and on about football, basketball, wrestling, but the point is as long as the contagious COVID-19 is around without a vaccine, inter-school sports remain a risky proposition at best, a dangerous and deadly one at worst.
However, there is the bubble of eastern Colorado.
Area school leaders need to be creative and persuasive, but in a positive, not selfish, way.
Maybe there will not be a chance for playoffs and state championships in the coming school year. However, that does not mean there could not be games.
The leagues in which Yuma plays football, the NCC, and volleyball, basketball and baseball, are low on the virus scale, along with the local 1A school leagues, the YWKC and the northern league up around Logan and Morgan counties. As of now, there are not many active cases, nor big spikes in new cases, at least of now.
Maybe, if nothing else, Yuma and other local schools, can play conference games if cases continue to remain relatively low, or perhaps go away altogether.
Yuma teams have games against schools along the Front Range in which they might have to cancel.
However, perhaps there would be a chance to schedule games against schools that are in communities that have the same low rate of infection. As of this past Tuesday, all of eastern Colorado had very few active cases.
Maybe it would take scheduling competitions only two weeks ahead of schedule. Maybe they would just be exhibitions, and the number of spectators would be limited, and required to wear masks. There would be no playoffs and state championships.
However, would that not be better than having nothing at all?
Rayl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.