Shortage of scenarios? When it comes to the still-to-be-determined status of high school spring sports, it’s best to plan and plan some more.
That was the general theme Monday when state athletic administrators from all six New England states along with New York and New Jersey huddled up on a conference call. Everyone might be on pins and needles as the mandated shutdown of all interscholastic-related activities enters the second full week, but don’t think for one second that there’s a shortage of hypotheticals that could come in handy whenever a dose of good news breaks concerning the coronavirus pandemic.
“We don’t have an answer or prediction on when or where this could all happen, but we all have to be ready to mobilize as quickly as possible if there’s an opportunity to get back out there this spring,” said R.I. Interscholastic League Assistant Executive Director Michael Lunney, who participated in the call with his fellow leaders from states that make up the northeast corridor.
“At this point, it’s a moving target. We’re planning out a lot of different scenarios that we don’t know if they’ll end up happening, but what our guidance has been is very simple. We’re talking to a lot people … those in the health industry and those in other states,” Lunney added. “We’re trying to get a gauge on where we’re at, but the reality of the situation is that we don’t know where we’re heading.”
Even if everything was running business as usual, spring teams at this stage would be scrambling to line up scrimmages or gym time in the event of inclement weather. The larger point is that even though Gov. Gina Raimondo announced last week that students won’t be returning to school until April 6 at the earliest, the spring sports calendar isn’t too far gone. Adjustments can still be applied to the schedule.
One item that wasn’t discussed Monday was the possibility of a drop-dead date that would result in the outright canceling of the entire spring season. Everyone is still optimistic that athletes will have a chance to showcase their abilities on the baseball/softball diamond, the golf course, the volleyball court, the lacrosse field, and the oval for track and field participants.
“We aren’t talking about those things at this point. Right now, I think everyone wants to remain hopeful. It’s still too early in the process that we don’t want to limit our spring activities,” said Lunney. “We’re just going to re-evaluate as we go and fall in line with what our state and national leaders are telling us.”
Lunney believes the superintendents and principals should be commended for enacting distance learning in the sense that it lessens the temptation to go outside and gather in groups.
“It’s given everyone some much-needed structure. We’re feeling our way through the process, but I’m also encouraged. I’m seeing our school communities banding together and sending out the right message. There’s no playbook for this right now, but I think everyone is doing their part to help the situation. Hopefully it’s going to be sooner rather than later when we get over this,” Lunney said. “Right now we’ve got to keep our focus on the most important thing and that’s social distancing … making sure the kids don’t get too antsy and create more of a problem by congregating.
“If we don’t comply, the longer we’ll have to keep doing what we’re doing now.”