As state moves to Stage 3, still no word on high school sports

The Dundalk Eagle - - SPORTS AND RECREATION - By Bill Gates

Well, we’re in Septem­ber and still (checks web­site) no info on how schools are go­ing to cram three sports sea­sons into four months.

(As­sum­ing, of course, Bal­ti­more County schools de­cide to re­open for the sec­ond se­mes­ter.)

I’m not be­ing crit­i­cal; it’s def­i­nitely freakin’ hard to de­vise a plan to play three sports sea­sons — one of them be­ing foot­ball sea­son — in just four months (as­sum­ing they just don’t de­cide to ex­tend the spring sea­son well into June, past its tra­di­tional end on Me­mo­rial Day week­end with the state track and field cham­pi­onships and base­ball and soft­ball state fi­nals).

It’s just ... give us some hope for end this “fall sports sea­son is post­poned” cha­rade.

My spec­u­la­tion: the sticking point is how much of a foot­ball sea­son is enough to make it worth­while?

Soc­cer, field hockey, vol­ley­ball -they can all cram sev­eral games into one week. Foot­ball is one game a week. No com­pro­mises.

A nor­mal foot­ball sea­son is nine weeks, fol­lowed by five weeks of play­offs (re­gional round, re­gional round, quar­ter­fi­nals, semis, state fi­nal). That’s over three months.

So the sea­son will be much short­ened. How many games are needed to pro­duce le­git play­off can­di­dates? Will the post­sea­son also be re­duced?

Yeah, I don’t envy the peo­ple grap­pling with these de­tails.

So — hey, how about that sur­prise an­nounce­ment from Gov. Larry Ho­gan last week that all schools should re­open? What a way to head into the week­end, huh?

A lo­cal coach im­me­di­ately tweeted: “It’s crazy Gov. Ho­gan wants to send kids back to school now all of a sud­den, but didn’t want high school ath­let­ics? What’s safer for the kids, be­ing in a build­ing with 1,500 peo­ple or on a field with 35?”

I fig­ure, if schools were go­ing to be al­lowed to re­open, then sports would also get the goa­head.

That would have been a lo­gis­ti­cal chal­lenge, con­sid­er­ing prac­tices were sup­posed to start on Au­gust 12. Coaches and the county de­part­ment of ath­let­ics would have had to im­me­di­ately get teams or­ga­nized and prac­tices sched­uled (min­i­mum 10 prac­tices re­quired be­fore ac­tual; play can be­gin) and de­vis­ing re­vised sea­son sched­ules.

And there would be the ques­tion that has been hang­ing around ever since the pan­demic was ob­vi­ously go­ing to have an im­pact on the 2020-21 school year: if some coun­ties de­cide to open, oth­ers do not, what does the MPSSAA do con­cern­ing state play­offs?

Not a prob­lem, for now, see­ing as Bal­ti­more County po­litely told the gov­er­nor it was go­ing to pro­ceed with its re­mote learn­ing plan, for now.

(Talked with a friend of mine who teaches at a non-Dun­dalk area high school. Asked him how hard would it be to shift back to in-per­son teach­ing af­ter over a month of pre­par­ing for re­mote learn­ing. His re­sponse: “Where do you get the idea we’ve been pre­par­ing for even a month?)

The county re­sponded that, rather than sticking with a hard Fe­bru­ary 1 re­open­ing, it would ex­am­ine a “phased-in” plan for re­turn­ing small groups of stu­dents to the build­ings, adding groups of stu­dents un­til all have re­turned to school.

No de­tails con­cern­ing the im­pact this would have on ath­let­ics were re­leased. My thought, it won’t even be con­sid­ered un­til all stu­dents have re­turned to in­per­son ed­u­ca­tion.

Gov. Ho­gan did an­nounce on Tues­day the state would move to Stage Three of the re­open­ing plan on Fri­day.

The an­nounce­ment ref­er­enced youth sports (AKA rec sports) as be­ing al­lowed (since June 12, ac­tu­ally) to re­sume, while coun­ties can im­pose their own re­stric­tions un­der which rec sports can be played.

Bal­ti­more County’s re­stric­tions, along with what sports lo­cal rec coun­cils will be of­fer­ing this fall), have been de­scribed in pre­vi­ous Ea­gle ar­ti­cles.

For ex­am­ple: tackle foot­ball is not al­lowed; flag foot­ball only.

Hav­ing played both in the past, I can at­test: some­times it’s harder to snag that dang flag.

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