The Virginia High School League met again Wednesday to discuss fall sports and once again we were left with few answers as the meeting ended.
Wash, rinse, and repeat, Am I right?
I don’t have the total number of meetings the VHSL executive committee has held since this pandemic started back in March, but it has to be close to double digits by now. Each time they hold one, I get this excited feeling we are finally going to get answers, and each time I sit down to write the same article I’ve written for four months.
They don’t have any answers this time, but soon may.
Wednesday was different though, sort of. The executive committee was presented with three models surrounding high school sports. They are going to take those models back to school officials and get their input and hold a final vote July 27. We will have an answer then, hopefully. I am not holding my breath on that one because a lot can change between now and July 27.
Since I just wrote about the models in a brief way, I figured I’d use this column to give thoughts on what I think will happen. Here we go:
Leave all sports in current season, but only cross-country and golf would be allowed to play. Football, volleyball and cheer are gone. This option is off the table in my opinion. Football is the moneymaker at every school in the commonwealth. It has the most attendance and it brings together the football parents and fans and also the cheerleading and band students, along with their families. Homecoming and senior nights are packed and concession money is most likely double or triple what from any other sport.
No school leaders in their right mind would agree to just not play a football season. What about the student athletes? There are volleyball and football players who are banking on this season to get a college offer. There are several football players who have division one talent and what happens if they don’t get to showcase that talent one more time for the recruiters? That is why I think this option isn’t even being considered by much of anyone.
Switch fall and spring seasons. The only spring sport that could not be played this fall is lacrosse, but we don’t have to worry about that here. Baseball, softball, track and field, soccer and tennis can all play under current guidelines if they switch to fall.
At first glance, this looks to be the best option, but there are drawbacks and for those reasons I just don’t feel like this one is going to get the votes. The drawbacks mainly include the chance that COVID-19 numbers rise and/or teams have positive tests that cause the season to be canceled. Spring sports teams just lost its entire seasons in March, and none of the coaches and student athletes want to take a chance losing another season.
While there is no way to tell if moving things back to December — or whenever — will lessen the chances of cancellations or postponements of seasons, the risk is much higher if they go forward in late August/early September.
This model makes the most sense for the students because it gives them their full seasons. No condensed season and no sports being canceled because of guidelines, but does the risk outweigh the reward? I have heard of several coaches and athletic directors around the state not wanting to risk having the coaches and student athletes of spring sports having their seasons canceled again. I understand and I support that and that’s why I believe this option will not get the support.
Delay all VHSL sports and adopt the condensed interscholastic plan. Leave all sports in the season where they are currently aligned. I am a fan of this, and I am not a fan of this.
I am a fan because every sport gets the opportunity to play and the pushed back schedule (first sports wouldn’t start until December) would provide time to (hopefully) get the virus under control and/or a vaccine becomes available.
I am against this model because each sport would play a condensed schedule. Approximately 60% of the season and postseason playoffs would be different. In fact, it was discussed at Wednesday’s meeting that state playoffs may not even happen. For teams like the Halifax basketball team which has the talent to make a deep state tournament run, it would be devastating to not have the opportunity to see what they could have done with the chance to play a full season.
This model seemed to have the momentum during the executive committee meeting on Wednesday, and many coaches seem to like it as well. Does that mean it will be what they decide? Who knows?
VHSL officials have done all they can with what they have, but I haven’t seen a firm decision from them since they canceled everything back in May. Everything else has been smoke and mirrors, so when they make a concrete decision about high school sports you will find me jumping up and down around my computer celebrating the fact that a real decision was finally made.