Eight different states in the U.S. decided to move some or all of its high school fall sports into spring schedules this year. This is so that coaches and athletes will be at less risk from the COVID-19 pandemic. California was one of these states that opted not to have a fall competition, but football teams are now just about to kick off a shortened spring season.
Many other states like Florida and Georgia resumed their fall events with a slight delay, but the California Department of Public Health (and California Interscholastic Federation) decided against a delayed start due to the rise in positive coronavirus cases through California.
However, is this all about to change?
How has COVID-19 Impacted Sport Across America?
Some sports have still gone ahead, with the absence of an actual audience. For example, the first round of the NCAA Division III men’s basketball tournament at John Hopkins University was just held and another men’s basketball tournament, ‘March Madness,’ for D1 is about to start.
For the 2019-2020 academic year, all NCAA championships after mid-March were cancelled, while the NBA was suspended until late in the summer. The Patriot League, a conference that competed in the 2nd level of D1 football, said its teams wouldn’t travel or do overnight stays in most cases.
Ivy League cancelled its entire fall season, which was now scheduled to take place in spring. The national championships for all fall sports were also cancelled.
The 2020 Division I championships from the NCAA for fall sports (other than football) were rescheduled to spring 2021 but with a one-quarter reduction in championship participants. This is due to the cost of testing, cost of lost income and other health protocols.
Some sports have also had to relocate their practice or full games because of legislative bans on sports that involve physical contact.
Other states opted to Resume the Play of High School Sports
Other states have also followed suit. Thanks to the go-ahead from Governor Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas went ahead in allowing fall sports practice.
For the District of Columbia, the State Athletic Association said that football, soccer and volleyball would start back up from the beginning of February. Games were permitted from the 22nd up until the 16th of April.
The Iowa football season remained the same from late August. In other states, sports are expected to be starting its schedules on time, such as football and volleyball in Minnesota.
Pennsylvania is another state that prides itself on sports and despite the governor urging for high school sports to be delayed until January 2021, the PIAA voted and the fall season proceeded. The state in particular was well-known for recent law changes on sports betting as they were one of the first states to legalize online sports betting activities. Therefore, there are no surprises that the state wanted high school sports to resume in hope that their schools are creating some of the next talented sports players of the future.
Despte COVID Rates in California falling,
Residents Remain at Home
Some of the suspensions brought on by COVID doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon even though most case rates in California counties have been dropping for more than a month. Nevertheless, timelines could change, which would affect high school athletes and a return to the field.
But as COVID-19 cases continue to fall across the state, many are staying smart, continuing to wear masks and waiting until they are fully vaccinated before really getting more close to normal. The California Interscholastic Federation also has been monitoring.
On the 19th of February, the California Department of Public Health released anticipated high school sports updates that did allow for many sports to resume with a spring schedule. Then two weeks later the guidelines were updated again when the state settled a lawsuit brought up by two families who wanted high school athletes to be treated the same as college and pro athletes when it came to getting back onto the field.
The update also suggests that face coverings must always be worn when not playing, i.e. – coaches or subs standing on the sidelines. It also states that physical distancing should be in place amongst those who are not from the same household. Weekly testing for players and coaches is also encouraged.
Despite COVID, Sports Still Remain Popular in US High Schools
while Players with Scholarship Potential Exist
What makes them so popular? Firstly, they are a form of free entertainment, offering schools and pupils a greater sense of belonging, not to mention the pride that goes alongside this.
Friendly rivalry also is generated with the local community, which may have gone back for generations and play an essential part in its history.
Sports can also help children with their behavior and even help them perform better in lessons. Students themselves tend to enjoy the social aspect of the sport, providing them with an opportunity to hang out with friends.
With all of this in mind, it’s no surprise that many high school sports teams attract sponsorship opportunities from the local community.
Students who do exceptionally well in their chosen sport might even be offered a scholarship at university and perhaps even develop a successful career in sports, earning millions of dollars a year.
Although COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on sporting schedules, it is likely to return stronger than ever.
In most cases, entire seasons have been pushed back, while a handful of states continue as usual. Many teams have had to exercise great caution, avoiding large crowds, extensive travel or overnight stays.
Other teams have been permitted to practice, but in a separate area, so they’re not breaking the rules.
California was one of the worst affected by COVID-19 and therefore made the decision to not proceed with the fall games. Nevertheless, once sports make a comeback, they are likely to be as popular as ever.