In my first installment of the online “Sports Buzz” I give you my predictions and timeline for the decision about high school spring sports. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll say right up front I don’t have any inside connections who contributed to this column or any way of knowing that any of this information is factual. It’s purely my opinion and prediction, and I look forward to the discussion to follow.
Today is March 22 and we are halfway through the government-mandated statewide closure of schools. We are at a point when reality says that it’s going to be a “not if, but when” situation in terms of school closures being extended beyond March 27.
In some districts, final arrangements are being made for more formal and intense online coursework beyond what was originally organized. In addition, many teachers have been told what hours they can come to school this week to get any materials they might need for the coming weeks. Those two things don’t happen if there’s any chance the students are back in school on March 30.
Add to those circumstances the fact that the coronavirus situation since the original closure of schools has worsened here in the First State, extending well beyond the University of Delaware borders into all three counties and several age categories. Allowing students back into schools at this point of the crisis would be like admitting they should have never been pulled out in the first place.
So what about high school spring sports?
If schools get shut down for the rest of the year – which I don’t think will happen right now but certainly is not out of the question – high school spring sports automatically can’t happen. And so in that case it becomes the government’s decision.
But if my prediction of an extended school closure until after spring break happens for now, the state is not forcing the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association’s hand to cancel spring sports. If schools do reopen on April 20, there will be at least six weeks, if not more, left of the school year, and an adjusted high school season could happen. It would be far from ideal however it ends up looking, but there won’t be one senior student-athlete who would complain.
I have ideas, like many others do, on how to make that happen if it does actually become an option. But I’ll save that hopefully for another column because, unfortunately, I think that when the announcement of an extended school closure is made early this week, the DIAA will announce shortly afterward that spring sports are officially canceled.
Some will support the decision and others will complain. The reality is tough decisions don’t happen without responses from both sides of the issue. We saw that reaction with the abrupt decision – and I believe the correct one – to cancel the basketball tournaments before their respective conclusions.
That decision was made with the health and safety of all involved as the only reason. If the spring sports season is canceled, the same reason of health and safety will be the primary one, but other factors will influence it as well.
Those factors involve, among others, the reorganizing of the logistics that it takes to pull off any sports season under normal circumstances, let alone one that would undoubtedly require several rescheduling issues regardless of how they try to pull it off. From facilities to buses to officials to support staff, the undertaking would be enormous. It might just be impossible to pull off.
Pulling the plug on the spring sports season once the school closings are extended is probably the only decision that makes sense, given everything else that is going on, or not, during this unprecedented pandemic. It allows those involved some closure, and in some cases and ways, the opportunity to begin moving on.
Nobody ever likes to be wrong, but this is a case where, for the sake of the senior student-athletes, I hope that I am.
Stay safe and healthy.
The Sports Buzz is meant to provide commentaries and opinions on sports issues of interest to the local community. Join the conversation or start a new one by commenting below or @JonBuzby on Twitter.