If sports do resume, smaller playoff fields are likely
The Baltimore County Board of Education confirmed last week what I had speculated a few weeks ago about high school sports in the fall.
According to the updated “Roadmap to Reopening,” sports during the first semester will be limited to virtual conditioning and coaching.
Actually, I was a bit more optimistic in my speculation. With all sports postponed to the second semester (which begin at the start of February), I figured some organized in-person team workouts and practices would be allowed.
Since, you know, the county is going to try and cram three seasons of sports into four months, I figured they’d want to get started once February arrives and not waste a few weeks with practices and workouts.
Of course, there’s no guarantee we’ll have sports in the second semester, anyway.
“The start of the fall and winter sports seasons will be postponed while instruction is virtual and until it is safe to conduct all the various facets of organized team sports (e.g., group practice, equipment sharing, use of locker room facilities, etc),” as stated in the Roadmap to Reopening.
So, when February rolls around, if conditions are judged not to be safe, the county will continue with remote learning and no sports.
(Am I the only one who, upon hearing the phrase “Is it safe?”, imagines Laurence Olivier drilling holes in my teeth without novocain?)
The county has not yet released details on the “Athletics Reimagined” plan, other than holding “condensed” winter, fall and spring seasons (likely in that order) during the second semester.
The plan can’t be finalized until the MPSSAA announces its plan.
Another point, which will have an impact on possible recreation council sports, is the decision to close all BCPS facilities to outside organizations.
It seems recreation councils are now considered “outside organizations.”
A contact with recreation and parks told me this applies to indoor facilities, not outdoor. Let’s hope so; otherwise, those fields at Chesterwood and Merritt Point parks are gonna get mighty crowded.
As the county announced last week, recreation councils may start fall sports as long as they follow rather stringent restrictions as described in the story elsewhere in this week’s Eagle.
No tackle football is allowed; football programs must play flag football. Which is better than nothing; I see enough poor tackling skills among local high school teams as it is.
Put your shoulder pad in the ballcarriers’ belt buckle, wrap up, and drive with your feet. But ever yone wants to just hit the ballcarrier without using arms and hope he falls down. Or just grabs on and tries to drag him down. Or grabs the shoulder pads and tries to fling him down.
Ummmm ... yeah. Sorry; pet peeve. Anyway ,,, best-case scenario is we get shortened seasons starting February 1: a short winter season, a short fall season (interesting to find out how many football games they’ll try to play, including postseason. If there is a postseason) and a short spring season.
This is all dependent on what the MPSSAA decides to do in regards to regional and state championships, but track and field may as well start with one big invitational, followed by the county, region and state championship meets.
I would guess, if there is a football postseason, it will return to the days when only eight teams qualified from each classification, and the entire postseason was three games.
Or possibly just regular-season region champs will advance, with the postseason beginning right in the state semifinals.
One thing I think is definite: there won’t be the usual “open playoffs” in all the other team sports, where everyone advances to the postseason.
I wouldn’t be surprised if all sports just have regional champs advance to the playoffs.
Personally, I’m pessimistic we’ll see any sports at all during the 2020-21 school year. Every action to date by Baltimore County and the state strongly suggests only the complete eradication of COVID-19 will be considered “safe” enough to reopen schools and high school sports.
Then again, maybe after November the disease will suddenly be less of a threat.