I have tried to stay optimistic.

I have tried to believe that high school sports will return this fall, but I am to the point where I feel that we will not see any high school sports to start the school year. We don’t even know if students will be back at school to start the year yet, so it feels selfish to think that sports will start on time.

The Virginia High School League has done its best to make decisions, lay out guidelines and give us hope the high school sports season will not be affected, but let’s face it, it will be.

In last week’s executive committee meeting, executive director Billy Haun mentioned an alternative schedule to the sports seasons if they are not able to play fall sports. That schedule moved fall sports until late winter or early spring. There would be no sports scheduled until the winter sports season kicked off with basketball in November. Fall sports would begin in February with spring sports starting in April.

The only problem I see with this schedule, other than the tight squeeze, is there appears to be overlap. We have many student athletes at Halifax County High School who compete in multiple sports. If these seasons overlap, or a team makes a state tournament run, the other sports they participate in will start before they are finished with the first.

While it may work out somehow, from an initial glance it appears to have flaws. But then again, these are unprecedented times, and no one making any of these decisions has anything to go off of. I cannot imagine the stress and backlash that the VHSL, school principals, superintendents, athletic directors and so on are going through.

No matter what the decision is, in the end there will be many people who don’t agree. That’s the way it goes with pretty much every decision, but these are close to home and affect people directly which gives it that personal touch.

We have all seen what is going on with the coronavirus across the country. Florida, Texas and Arizona are in the midst of an epic outbreak. North Carolina and South Carolina’s numbers are surging. Virginia is doing surprisingly well at the moment (knock on wood) but Phase Three just kicked off and that means more gatherings and the possibility of an outbreak increases.

I was optimistic back in March and April that we could contain the virus or have a vaccine before school started, but neither of those seems to be happening as we are now less than two months before the start of school.

In VHSL guidelines, officials have said divisions can begin practice. However, the problem is that other releases refer to either the governor on one end or the local school systems on the other. They are putting the ball in their courts for everything, and I can’t say for certain, but I would imagine the local school systems aren’t prepared to draw up detailed guidelines relating to safety and hygiene when it comes to sports.

It’s not something they know a lot about, and they will need a lot of feedback and input in relation to it. This isn’t to knock any of them, they are all doing an outstanding job considering the circumstances, it is just that the VHSL, as the leading voice for high school sports in Virginia, seems to be washing their hands (no pun intended) of the situation at the moment.

They haven’t made Phase Three guidelines because they are waiting on the governor. They say you can practice but you have to draw up guidelines and send them to the DOE. You see where I am coming from?

But I digress.

Optimism can be hard to maintain at this day and time, and as each day passes more and more fades into the distance. Tonight the sun will set and as the day turns to night another day will be marked off of the calendar. The calendar has gone from March to July now, and we are still looking for the same answers we were four months ago. With the little optimism I have left maybe tomorrow we will get some answers. Or we will just mark another day off the calendar and look to the next one.

Johnathan Kirland is a sports writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him jkirkland@gazettevirginian.com. Follow him on Twitter @JohnathanK_GV