NOVAK: Fall sports are a pipe dream at this point

When the Michigan High School Athletic Association said that high school fall sports would begin as scheduled, I called it wishful thinking.

I am even more convinced of that today as I sit in front of my computer screen and pound out these words. I know they are hurtful words to many, including myself. I want more than anything for fall sports to begin on time. But you only have to look at the numbers and the way they are trending to see it is probably a pipe dream.

The MHSAA is scheduled to meet again to discuss whether or not it can proceed with fall sports, which are scheduled to begin with football practice on Aug. 10 and the rest of the fall sports on Aug. 12. Until then, we can only hold our collective breaths and wait.

A month ago, I would have said we are absolutely going to have fall sports. But with each passing day, I begin to lose more faith in that happening. The numbers around the country, let alone Michigan, are spiraling out of control. Things have actually gotten worse than when we shut down sports last March.

I have been thinking about crawling into a hole until a decision is made one way or another. I am bombarded with the same question everywhere I go. I do not have a crystal ball. I am no privy to inside information. I know as much as you do about what the thought process is.

It is not that I mind talking to people about sports. I really do enjoy it, but having to try to answer the same question over and over again is just starting to wear on me.

I wish I did have some sort of insight. It would make things so much easier. It is like Groundhog Day. I do the same thing over and over when it comes to sports. I get up and search the internet looking for some sign of hope come out of East Lansing. But that hope has been replaced with more and more doubt as teams like Michigan State and Rutgers have to quarantine their entire football teams do to the coronavirus. I read the local papers. There I find schools in Indiana that have players testing positive for COVID-19 on a variety of sports teams.

None of that means Michigan cannot get started on time, but it does mean that in our region, things are not improving. Improvement is what we need to move forward with high school sports this fall safely.

I have tried to think about what sports we could safely have this fall. Obviously, football and soccer would be a no-go at this point due to the amount of contact between players. I could see us having boys and girls golf, boys and girls tennis, as well as cross country.

Golf and tennis are easy to create social distancing. Figuring out how to keep the equipment disinfected would be the only true obstacle that I can see. If we decide to have cross country, schools will have to spend money to have chip timing for the races. That way, they could stagger the starts and keep social distancing.

The other key, of course, is will there be in-person schooling or e-learning. I am not sure we have sports if the state goes with e-learning. I could be wrong, but I just have that feeling.

So, for now, we once again wait for word from the MHSAA. Today is the pivotal day. There really is no more time to delay the decision. One has to be made and plans have to start taking place if we can have a fall sports season.

 

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

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