TAYLOR MADE: ADJUSTING TO A UNIQUE ERA
The high-risk sports (basketball, competitive cheer, ice hockey,
wrestling) are underway and let me tell you, it's been an interesting
situation (as it was with bowling and swimming).
Over the years I watched numerous wrestlers frequently adjust their
headgear (usually because they don't have it properly adjusted to fit
their head), but in the two matches I've covered this season there has
been very little headgear adjusting going on as grapplers are now
spending more time fixing the face masks they're required to wear (I
think I saw it happen at least 25 times Wednesday evening).
You no longer see the referee raise the winner's hand. (if you look at
photo No. 2 you can see what happens after a wrestler wins a match —
referee Dave Kreider instructing Owego's Matt Gatto to raise his hand to
after accepting a forfeit).
There are no concession stands at events (boy has that saved this
bachelor a few bucks) and there are no (or very few) fans in the stands.
Heck, S-VE won't even allow media in the gym.
I don't know if it's Owego's intention, but the school has attempted to
make the athletes feel at ease by having a public address announcer
present at events, as well as cheerleaders at basketball games.
Another interesting aspect of the return of high-risk sports is
that there are currently no cheer competitions scheduled (Newark Valley,
Owego, S-VE and Waverly had competition squads last year).
I've included a few cheerleading photos from a Newark Valley practice
and Owego basketball games. These girls may not get to compete or
entertain the fans, but they are working hard to be the best at their
sport — and deserve a little recognition.
And that's another thing that torques me. Why aren't the governing
bodies like Section IV and the New York State Public High School
Athletic Association organizing virtual championships in sports where
it's possible to have them?
Section IV is holding virtual boys swimming and diving championships
next weekend (Owego competes in its pool at 6 p.m.), but why are they
and STAC not holding virtual bowling championships? The IAC was able to
Out of the 28 sports offered in New York state there are several in
which a postseason could be held virtually. Bowling, competitive cheer,
gymnastics, outdoor track & field, and swimming & diving could
be held at every school which has a team. And, with a little
coordination with other resources, I feel that cross country, golf,
indoor track & field and skiing could be held virtually as well.
As for fall and winter sports, most of the people I've talked
with agree that Section IV dropped the ball by postponing sports until
2021. Furthermore, only eight states and the District of Columbia did
not hold fall sports seasons in 2020. By the way, New York was not one
of them as the decision to postpone or cancel fall sports was left up to
individual sections (7 of the 11 participated in the fall).
Of the high-risk sports, football was postponed until winter / spring in
22 states and DC, the rest went ahead and played in the fall. And some
offered options for fall or winter / spring seasons.
New York and Minnesota will have the shortest seasons, just six weeks,
while a final decision has not been made in Illinois and Maine. Vermont,
which has just 30 teams, opted to forego tackle football for a 7-on-7
two-hand touch format. In Colorado, 218 schools played in the fall and
58 have elected to play this spring.
Only 15 states and DC did not play volleyball last fall, and New York
was the only state to change the National Federation of High Schools
classification to high-risk.
In medical terms, volleyball is considered a limited-contact sport
(contact with other athletes or with inanimate objects is infrequent or
inadvertent). Football is considered a collision sport (athletes
purposely hit or collide with each other or with inanimate objects with
great force. Basketball is listed as a contact sport (athletes routinely
make contact with each other or with inanimate objects, but usually
with less force than in collision sports).
In scholastic terminology, sports are typically referred to as
full-contact (football), limited-contact (basketball & volleyball)
and non-contact. Anyone who follows high school athletics should be able
to easily determine which categories the various sports fall into.
So, I ask you, why does New York consider all three of these sports as
equally dangerous as far as the threat of spreading the coronavirus
goes? I asked a medical professional who couldn't explain it, but
suggested the state health department and the governor don't have their
heads in the right place.
For me, adjusting to this unique era meant adapting to new jobs,
changing my sleep hours and, like so many of you, going 10 months
without my usual sports routine to follow.
However, I'm back, the athletes are back — and hopefully some type of normalcy will be back soon.
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