CHSAA commissioner clarifies stance on sports |

CHSAA commissioner clarifies stance on sports

Reading the tea leaves

Is high school soccer a "moderate risk" sport in the era of COVID-19? Touching the ball is generally discouraged.
Chris Dillmann | Daily file photo

Yes, this is a column about a column. Yes, that’s sounds weird, but it’s significant.

In the wake of COVID-19, the CHSAA Resocialization Task Force met for the first time on Wednesday, and CHSAA Commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green wrote a column on Thursday on the organization’s website.

As we have said before, the CHSAA Resocialization Task Force really needs a better name. It sounds like CHSAA wants to retrain Eagle Valley quarterback Will Geiman in social skills.

Geiman: “Hi, may name is Will. What is your name?”

Tyler Morrison: “Yo, Will, I’m Tyler, your tight-end. Throw me the darn ball.”

The good news is that it seems we’re not the only people criticizing CHSAA because, as we all know, the organization doesn’t care about the Western Slope. Blanford-Green’s getting flak from around the state on her Twitter feed.

So much so that she wrote a column: “Blanford-Green: CHSAA team dedicated to resuming athletics and activities in 2020-21.”

“Trust that we are focused on resuming all activities and athletics because we know participation supports the social, mental and physical well-being of all our students,” Blanford-Green wrote.

Our imperial overlords at CHSAA generally do not find it necessary to justify themselves to us peons. Apparently, it was necessary after the Resocialization Task Force started classifying sports into lower risk, moderate risk and high risk.

Moderate risk?

Looking at fall sports, golf, not surprisingly, is lower risk, cross-country, soccer, volleyball and softball moderate and football high.

Breaking it down, cross-country, soccer and softball seem somewhat questionable for moderate risk.

With cross-country meets, the issue is the the start/finish area. At big meets, and Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley compete at the biggest, there are 300 or so runners at the start line, which ain’t good for social distancing. Can we do interval starts, one racer going off every 30 or 60 seconds? (And racers will need to clear the finish area and not congregate.)

Softball already has a solution in place. Local leagues are putting together diamonds with two bases each — one for the runner and one for the fielder, so two people aren’t heading to the exact same point. Also, collisions, be they at the plate or at second base, are already against the rules.

Soccer? All in all, there aren’t meant to be that many collisions anyway. The players use their feet and goalies wear gloves. Maybe, there’s an adjustment for throw-ins? The biggest issue is making sure everyone doesn’t jump all over each other when they score. That said, Bundesliga has been coming up with some creative celebrations without contact.

My biggest worry about volleyball is not so much the game play, but that it is indoors and attracts big crowds (ahem, a Battle Mountain-Eagle Valley affair.) Do you limit crowd size? And, looking ahead, while basketball has more contact, this might be the solution for hoops as well.

Truthfully, I’m more worried about locker rooms and buses than any contact in the above listed sports. Those are the places where a cold or flu rips through a team. Teams may need to meet in larger rooms; athletes may need to change elsewhere and parents may be corralled into carpool duty.

The answer?

Then there is football. I don’t know what you do with this sport in the age of COVID-19, but let’s remember that football is bigger deal to the rest of the state than it is in Eagle County. No disrespect to our three teams, but it’s true. And, yes, I’m aware that Eagle Valley was 5-5 last year and returned a whole bunch of players from that team.

Salvation for football may come in a bigger cultural movement, and Blanford-Green’s column is a sign of it. There’s a desire for normal and it may override risk factors. And nothing is more normal than football on Fridays.

Doubtless, parents have gained a new appreciation during the lost spring for teachers and coaches. As much as everyone loves their kids, the new school year cannot come soon enough. Throw in the NBA seeming to be on the verge of a return and the NFL being likely back in the fall, and my bet is that high school sports will return.

It may be in a different format — some leagues may have the full complement; others not. Some families may elect to have their kids sit out. That’s their prerogative. The fall season may not start in August, but September or later with modified schedules. Maybe there are state tournaments or maybe sports are confined to regions.

But sports returning is becoming more likely when CHSAA has to explain itself to us.

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