If sports do re­sume, smaller play­off fields are likely

The Dundalk Eagle - - SPORTS & RECREATION - by Bill Gates

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.

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