NOVAK: As we inch closer to restarting, do not let your guard down

As we inch ever closer to restarting high school sports, now is not the time to relax and let our guards down.

For those who so much want everything to go back to normal, I must caution you that we will be living in a new normal until they find a vaccine for COVID-19 or some treatments to help lessen its effects. We cannot just jump back into the way we used to do things.

If we stopped social distancing and wearing face masks when we cannot properly social distance, then we run the risk of creating a spike that would set us back. We are living on the razor’s edge right now as we begin to reopen in phases. One false step and we back up a phase or two. Totally disregarding social distancing and masks just because you feel like the government cannot ask you to do so and go back to step one. Only this time, we do not collect $1,200 and you can kiss sports goodbye. That means pretty much all sports: high school, college and professional.

I know many are fearful that we may not have football in the fall. But if we can keep things going in the right direction, I believe we will have it. It may mean no fans, or at least a limited number of fans at the start. We can build from there.

I know that after seeing the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s guidelines for restarting sports, I am already starting to think about what they will look like and how we will cover them. If no fans are allowed to attend, then it will be up to us as sports writers to find new ways to convey what is going on in a real-time fashion.

Social media, which is currently under attack from our president, could become even more important in the fall as we try to cover high school sports for those who are not allowed to attend the games. Does that mean play-by-play via Twitter and/or Facebook? Right now, I have no idea.

I am hopeful that we have a clearer picture of what high school sports will look like this fall. I want to have a plan in place for covering our six high schools. I know some have invested in cameras that you can watch games without commentators through the MHSAA. Should all of our schools do this? That is a question I am certainly going to pose to area athletic directors.

Whether or not all our schools can afford to join the program due to expected budget cuts is yet to be seen.

I plan on talking to the MHSAA to seek its guidance about doing live video from games for those schools that do not have cameras to show their sports. Will they charge us a fee to do Facebook Live? I will be asking that question as soon as my plan develops, and we get more information from both the MHSAA and the state regarding how many people will be allowed to attend sporting events, if any.

I will be talking to athletic directors about how they will decide who gets into a game if the MHSAA decides it will start sports with a limited number of fans in attendance. I know they were working out a process during the boys basketball districts in March when the state said the tournament would proceed with no fans, only a certain number of family members.

There is a lot to be decided between now and the second week of August when fall sports practice is scheduled to begin. It will remain a fluid situation until the virus is under control. We may have to make many adjustments along the way, but I can promise you that we will provide our readers with the best coverage we can based on the guidelines we must adhere to.

 

Scott Novak is sports editor for Leader Publications. He can be reached at scott.novak@leaderpub.com.

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