Thursday, August 13, 2020
Aug. 13, 2020

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While wait continues, here are possible scenarios for the 2020-21 prep sports calendar

High schools: Tim Martinez

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
Published:

And so, we wait.

It feels like that’s all we’ve been doing for the past four months.

While some schools have allowed teams to begin modified summer workouts, Monday was a day when other high school sports teams were hoping to begin summer workouts together as Clark County was expected to move to Phase 3 of reopening.

Instead, rising cases of COVID-19 led Gov. Jay Inslee to put a two-week hold in moving counties up in phased reopening, meaning now those teams must wait until the middle of the month – at the earliest – to commence team workouts.

If the earliest Clark County can now move to Phase 3 is July 16, then with the three-week minimum stay in each phase, it means the earliest Clark County could move to Phase 4 is Aug. 6.

Football games and full-contact practices only happen in Phase 4, and the scheduled first day of football practices is Aug. 19. That’s a narrow window. And, mind you, moving into Phase 4 is not an automatic greenlight for all football activities.

Also, other parts of the state, like the counties around Yakima, are behind Clark County in their phased reopening. Given that, it seems likely that prep sports this fall will look anything like normal.

On July 21, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Executive Board will discuss options for resuming high school sports for the 2020-21 school year. We may receive more answers then.

But until then, we wait.

The reason we are forced to wait is things can change so quickly.

Two weeks ago, there was a fair amount of optimism that fall sports could resume close to normal at the end of the summer.

But now, that optimism has been seriously dialed back as the numbers have taken a hard turn in the wrong direction.

Mick Hoffman, executive director of the WIAA, has said the WIAA has been working on contingency plans on top of contingency plans, as it tries to remain flexible to these ever-changing times. He’s also said that no option has been left off the table for consideration.

But what those options are haven’t been particularly clear.

However, we can get an idea by looking at other states.

Last week, the COVID-19 Task Force of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association announced potential scenarios that are considered a “starting point or framework” for how high school sports might look in the Empire State in 2020-21.

New York is a good state for us to look at, as opposed to proposals coming out of California or Texas which have much different climates.

I took the proposed scenarios in New York and modified them to give you an idea of how they might be implemented in Washington, particularly Southwest Washington where the boys and girls seasons for tennis and golf are split between fall and spring.

Scenario A

Scenario A is pushing forward as normal with social distancing practices and restrictions, perhaps with a delay in the start of the season, and it will continue for as long as conditions allow.

Scenario B

This scenario involves a complete flip-flop of the fall and spring seasons. In other words, spring sports like baseball, fastpitch softball and track and field will be held in the fall, while fall sports like football and volleyball get moved to the spring.

Scenario C

This scenario calls for a modified flip-flop of seasons, with tiered seasons.

In this scenario, low-risk sports like cross country, slowpitch softball, boys tennis and boys golf would start in September as normal, but compete in an abbreviated season that would end by mid-October. A second fall season would start in mid-October and run through early December, consisting of moderate-risk sports like volleyball, girls soccer and girls swimming.

The winter season (consisting of just basketball, boys swimming, gymnastics and bowling) would be condensed into January-February.

The first tier of the spring season would be held in March and April and consist of football and boys soccer. The second tier, running from late April into June, would consist of all the normal spring sports, plus wrestling.

Scenario D

In this scenario, there would be no sports played until January. Then sports would be played in three condensed seasons.

Season 1 (January to early March) would consist of basketball, bowling, gymnastics and boys swimming.

Season 2 (March to early May) would consist of football, wrestling, cross country, girls swimming, volleyball, girls soccer, boys tennis, boys golf and slowpitch softball.

Season 3 (April to mid June) would consist of baseball, fastpitch softball, boys soccer, track and field, girls golf and girls tennis.

There are likely other scenarios under consideration by the WIAA, or derivations of the above-listed scenarios. But these ideas give you an idea of the options that are out there for consideration.

But to be clear, there is a no perfect solution. And when the WIAA choses the track on which it will proceed for high school sports in Washington, there will be drawbacks. And some people will be unhappy.

This isn’t about finding the perfect solution. Instead, it’s about finding the least imperfect one.

Tim Martinez is the assistant sports editor/preps coordinator for The Columbian. He can be reached (360) 735-4538, tim.martinez@columbian.com or follow his Twitter handle @360TMart.

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