The next question: Whither fall sports? |

The next question: Whither fall sports?

Football, soccer, volleyball and other sports are now on the clock

Saturday's Eagle Valley at Battle Mountain football game is postponed after a COVID outbreak among the Eagle Valley community.
Daily file photo

Well, that stinks on ice.

Once the Colorado High School Activities Association moved the suspension of spring sports to April 3 in compliance with Gov. Jared Polis’ measures to combat the coronavirus, spring sports were finished unofficially.

Even if, through a magic wand, COVID-19 was eliminated, there wasn’t enough time to get our local teams back in shape and still have some time to compete before the scheduled graduations of our four local high schools with athletic programs.

CHSAA is correct?

Tuesday’s announcement just made it official. While we usually like to bag on CHSAA — ahem, rating-percentage index — this was a no-brainer. While everything’s trending in the right direction — a decline in COVID cases and deaths statewide — just imagine a hypothetical high school sports event between even Eagle and Pitkin county teams.

What would be a totally normal event — say, Battle Mountain or Eagle Valley vs. Aspen lacrosse or Vail Christian or Vail Mountain soccer vs. the Colorado Rocky Mountain School — would be worrisome. That’s 40-60 high school athletes with coaches, trainers officials, fans and whatever silly sports reporter is assigned to the game all converging on a field, grandstands, press boxes and locker rooms.

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Now imagine a track and field event with the traditional array of 4A and 2A teams — Summit, Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley, Glenwood Springs, Rifle, Steamboat Springs, Palisade, Vail Christian, West Grand, North Park, Soroco, Hayden, DeBeque, Hotchkiss, Rangely, Paonia, Plateau Valley and Caprock Academy.

That’s 18 teams from all over the western side of the state, an area less populated and affected by the virus. Let’s be conservative and say each team averages “only” 25 athletes per squad. (That’s very conservative as the Devils and Huskies usually have nearly 100 kids each out for track and field.)

We’re talking 450 athletes gathered in a high school stadium.

Heck, no.

We as a community, county and state have to figure out a way to contain this virus before we all get together for something as non-vital in the greater scheme of things than sports.

When do we return?

And that brings us to the $64,000 question: Will we have high school sports in the fall?

This is not one of these columns where I write an outlandish supposition like, “Rob Gronkowski should come out of retirement to play for Tampa Bay, a franchise which just happened to sign quarterback Tom Brady,” to elicit clicks, comments and angry letters.

Seriously, I am rooting for things to get back to “normal” because I love this place and because, well, I need my job as our local scribe.

Unlike the prospect of the NFL playing without fans or college football going on without students on campus, there is none of the aforementioned flexibility with our local high school sports. Eagle County has to figure out how to get 900-or-so students and staff (Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley) and/or 150-or-so students and staff (Vail Christian and Vail Mountain) safely on to campuses by late August.

Is this going to be hard? Probably. Is it impossible? No. The world’s been moving awfully fast during the last six weeks or so, and we’re still here. Imagine, if seven weeks ago, you’d said that toilet paper would be a prized commodity and we all had to stay home and watch Netflix for the good of the country? They would have carted you off to the looney bin.

Things change quickly and I’ll keep an open mind to the possibilities, which means Freud will engage in wishful, positive thinking.

In fact, if high school sports return for the fall, I will be happy to root for every volleyball match to go five games, regardless of the havoc it causes to my deadline. (Does Eagle Valley know its new coach roots for the Cowboys?)

I will look forward to the majesty that is Battle Mountain football. (By the way, Battle Mountain at Eagle Valley is Oct. 2 in Gypsum. And, Huskies football, feel free to use this as bulletin-board material. I’d love to be wrong.)

I will not be jealous of 16-year-old high school golfers who hit their 7-iron further than I hit my driver. (OK, I’ll be a little bit jealous.)

I will agree that R-O-W-D-I-E is, in fact, the way you spell rowdy.

I will not complain about the RPI. (OK, no chance on that.)

Let’s go, people. I hope to see you in the fall.

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