EDITORIAL: Fall prep sports come with risk, but let's hope gamble doesn't turn tragic
Many local folks were lobbying hard for it.
Some were even demanding it.
Now, they have apparently gotten what they wanted.
It looks like there will be a York-Adams League fall high school sports season in 2020 — despite Gov. Tom Wolf’s strong recommendation against holding any youth sports until at least Jan. 1, 2021.
Both the PIAA and the Y-A League have opted to ignore Wolf's guidance and have approved fall seasons — albeit in delayed and shortened formats. Additionally, none of the 23 Y-A member schools have yet made the individual decision to cancel fall sports.
Dallastown nearly did. The district’s superintendent recommended not holding fall sports because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The district’s school board, however, decided to table that discussion during a contentious 5½-hour meeting on Aug. 21.
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That meeting displayed the passion that surrounds the fall sports debate.
So, at this point, fall sports are a go.
Coronavirus calling the shots: That doesn’t mean, however, that the fall season will proceed smoothly. In fact, it would be a huge surprise if there weren’t numerous bumps in the road over the coming months.
That’s because the coronvavirus will clearly be calling the shots, despite the best-laid plans of high school athletic officials.
Multiple local teams will likely have outbreaks of various sizes during the season. Practices will probably be called off and games will likely be postponed or canceled. Teams that start the fall season may not be able to finish it.
In fact, the possibility that the entire fall sports season could be halted at some point is still a definite possibility.
Local issues already cropping up: The South Western School District has already closed its schools for this week because of multiple COVID-19 cases in its district.
And South Western is not alone. Northeastern School District confirmed on Thursday that one of its staff members had tested positive.
With August bringing record-breaking COVID-19 case totals in York County, Dr. Matt Howie, director of the York City Health Bureau, recently voiced his concerns about the pandemic's local impact.
“I do worry two, three weeks from now, what’s going to happen with the opening of schools,” Howie said last week.
We’ll soon find out if fall sports can safely be held in the middle of a pandemic.
Despite guidance from the governor and his health advisors, it’s clear that a sizable portion of York-Adams residents believe that sports can, and should, be held.
The attempt will be made: So, the attempt will be made.
It actually started Monday with the beginning of heat acclimatization workouts for football. Actual competitive events begin Sept. 8 with golf and Sept. 9 with girls’ tennis — the two fall sports generally considered the safest because of their lack of physical contact between opponents.
The more physical sports will follow. Football games are set to start on Sept. 17-18 and other sports (soccer, field hockey, girls’ volleyball, cross country) are slated to begin their competitions on Sept. 24-25.
At this point, none of those events will be held with spectators, even parents, although that state edict could change.
A couple months from now, we’ll know how this risky venture will end. And, to be sure, there's significant risk involved.
There’s also a reward, because there’s no denying that high school athletics come with many mental and physical benefits for our teenagers.
The decision to play fall sports will undoubtedly come with health consequences. Let’s just hope that those consequences don’t turn tragic.