Thursday, August 6, 2020
Aug. 6, 2020

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Tim Martinez: As foreboding signs mount, the only solution for preps is a team effort

High school sports

The Columbian
Published:

Last week, Washington became one of seven states nationwide to make the decision to formally delay the start of the high school sports season.

Like Washington, Arizona and West Virginia made the delay only a week or two. New Jersey pushed back its fall season by a month.

Two others, Tennessee and Vermont, have delayed the start without announcing a start date.

And New Mexico became the first state in the country to push high-contact sports like football and soccer to the spring.

Several others state appear to be on the verge of making a decision.

But the most disconcerting news to come out last week, at least as it relates to the possible future of high school sports in Washington, came from the Northwest Athletic Conference, the governing body of community college sports in the Pacific Northwest.

The NWAC, which houses its executive offices right here in Vancouver, decided to delay the start of almost all of its sports until February at the earliest. Only cross country and golf are still slated to hold fall seasons.

More clarity about the status of Washington’s fall high school sports is expected next week when the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s Executive Board will meet.

Last week, the Executive Board announced the decision to delay the start of fall sports practices. The first day of football practice was pushed back from Aug. 19 to Sept. 5, while all other fall sports were pushed back from Aug. 24 to Sept. 7.

After this decision was made, fans were asking two basic questions. Why did the WIAA make this decision now, when the start of the fall season is still more than a month away? And why was football delayed 17 days, while other sports delayed only 14?

When you understand the WIAA’s reasoning for its decision, you’ll get both questions answered.

Most school districts across the state plan on starting the 2020-21 school on either Tuesday, Sept. 1 or Wednesday, Sept. 2.

With its decision, the WIAA setting sports aside, for the moment, so that school districts can focus their efforts on preparing for the school year, whether that take place in class, online or a mixture of both.

The WIAA is giving schools the entire opening week of the school year to focus on schooling, and everything that goes into that, before introducing sports to the ever-changing equation.

And that makes perfect sense.

Sports, and other activities, are an important part of the educational process.

School sports and instruction are inextricably linked.

However, sports remain a subordinate part of the educational process.

And when a crisis forces schools to prioritize their focus, things like instruction, support and overall safety of students and staff rate above sports and activities.

It’s important to keep that in mind as we move forward.

Could last week’s decision by the WIAA be a harbinger of further delays and postponements in high school sports this year? Quite possibly.

The governor’s moratorium on approving counties to move up in phased reopening was set to expire Thursday. But on Tuesday, he extended that moratorium until at least July 28.

Given the number of daily new cases reported in the last week, the reality is Clark County likely won’t be eligible for Phase 3 until well into August, if at all.

But if you are looking for something positive, I will give you this quote Monday from Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control.

“If all of us would wear a face covering over the next four weeks to six weeks, we could drive this epidemic into the ground.”

Four to six weeks. That puts us right on the doorstep of the school calendar.

Anyone who has ever played a sport knows that sports can teach us some very valuable life lessons.

And one key lesson learned from sports is that a team is only as strong as its weakest link.

So wear a face mask, and encourage for family, friends and neighbors to do the same.

It is not a sign of weakness, but of compassion. And it’s so little to ask for a reward so great.

As my college track and field coach use to tell us at the start of every season “If all the I’s in this room would do what you need to do, then WE will have a great season.”

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

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