By LARRY VAUGHT
As much as many coaches, players and fans hope we have high school sports this fall — or maybe any time during the 2020-21 school year — there are numerous coaches I know wondering if that is possible
In fairness, I know many who are also convinced football and other sports can be played safely.
Thursday a prominent coach — and he does not coach football — reached out with his concerns. He did not want his name used to shield his school/team from potential criticism.
“I think the discussion around high school sports is highly problematic at the moment. There is this strong pressure to just push ahead despite the virus surging, and despite tons of precautions attempting to be taken in classrooms, including NTI (non-traditional instruction),” he said.
“The arguments being used by coaches and administrators centers around how important sports are to the kids and communities. Of course they’re important! No one is arguing that, but that doesn’t make it a good decision or a logical argument. It’s also going to jeopardize the ability to have in-class learning if cases occur on the ball field.”
Next comes a point I’ve wondered about often.
“Having spent significant time around high schoolers and kids this summer, I can virtually guarantee that few, if any, athletic teams are actually abiding by social distancing guidelines when training,” he said. “The coaches are no doubt trying, but during water breaks, traveling to and from practice, etc., it just doesn’t wind up working.
“How can we justify the restricted classroom and NTI learning and then say, ‘Go play football/soccer/volleyball every day at 3 pm?’”
He has no doubt the sincerity of KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett, who told us on WPBK-FM Thursday morning that plans were still in motion for a fall sports season.
“I know Julian has an impossible job right now, so I’m not knocking him or anyone individually, but I think we are headed for a potential train wreck if we don’t use more logic,” the coach said. “Hopefully I’m completely wrong and the virus burns itself out, and plowing ahead with sports works out.”
So do I but it sure seems doubtful. Lincoln County had to halt girls basketball activity Thursday after a player tested positive. Centre College, a Division III school in Danville, will not have any fall sports and no winter sports until at least Jan. 1 at best.
“I cancelled our voluntary workouts earlier this week because I just thought the risk outweighed the benefit at this time,” the coach said.
What we don’t know is if that will be true three weeks from now, six weeks from now or six months from now and that’s why this stays so scary to me.