COLUMN: Déjà vu all over again

It is starting to feel a bit like November all over again.

Local spikes in COVID-19 are forcing the cancellation or postponement of games and matches in boys and girls basketball and wrestling.

Teams are having to go into quarantine just a couple of weeks before the start of the state tournaments just as they did back in November for volleyball and football. Schools are having issues getting enough staff to be open. But this time, instead of COVID, most of their issues seem to be arising due to the reaction to the second-round of vaccines for their teachers.

It is all too familiar a scenario for me after what happened in March 2020 when winter sports were suspended during the tournament and eventually postponed altogether. I believe, just like last year, we will get through the state wrestling tournaments because they have testing available to them.

My concern is that we could end up pulling the rug out from under the boys and girls basketball teams, as well as the swimmers and divers. It would be the second straight year of doing that if this current trend does not reverse itself.

Unlike last March, when things were just starting to be closed down and the majority of the people in this state refused to wear masks, I hope we learned our lesson. I know the governor is relaxing some of the guidelines, but I pray that the people who said they would do anything to get their children to participate in high school sports do not let their guard down.

It is bad enough that I see our athletes, who threw a hissy fit about not being allowed to play sports, refuse to wear their masks properly. It has gotten so bad that the state is directing officials to enforce the wearing of them during games by either sending kids off the floor if they repeatedly refuse to keep them up, or in some instances, are giving technical fouls to those players.

Personally, I think that the policing of masks should start at the top athletic directors telling their coaches to make their players follow the rules. Coaches should then police their own teams by demanding that they wear the masks properly, or take them out of the game when they do not. If a coach does not keep his players within the rules, then assess him or her a technical foul. A couple of those during a game, which would force the coach to miss the next game, I think would go a long way to cleaning up the issue.

We are not that far away from getting to the finish line for winter sports. I know we can do it if we just stay the course and wear the masks properly and socially. If we can get through the next three or four weeks, then I know we can have a complete spring sports season because most of those have natural social distancing built-in.

We all need to pull together and make one last stand against COVID-19. The vaccines are rolling out, and people are getting them. Sports teams have done a pretty solid job of meeting the requirements, but now is not the time to let down our guard. One last push to the finish line, and we can put the awful memories of 2020 behind us.

Please do your part.

 

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

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