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EDITORIAL: Many deserve credit for completing fall sports season that appeared in peril

DISPATCH EDITORIAL BOARD
  • The high school fall sports season came to an end on Saturday night.
  • The season was completed during a pandemic and despite numerous issues.
  • The York-Adams League weathered the season with comparatively few disruptions.
From left, Central York's Beau Pribula, Seth Griffiths and Jack Smith hold the team's second place trophy after falling 62-13 to St. Joseph's Prep PIAA Class 6-A Football Championship game at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020. St. Joseph's Prep would win the title game 62-13. Dawn J. Sagert photo

They did it.

It was much shorter than normal and much more treacherous than normal, but the schools in the York-Adams League managed to start, and finish, a 2020 fall high school sports season.

Accomplishing that mission during a pandemic that has claimed more than 240 York County lives borders on miraculous.

Back in the summer, it looked like an impossible mission, especially when Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf publicly announced that he believed all youth sports should be suspended until after Jan. 1, 2021.

Wolf, however, opted not to make that a mandate but rather a strong recommendation. It was a recommendation that the PIAA and most of its member schools and conferences — including the York-Adams League — opted to disregard.

EDITORIAL: PIAA needs to make hard decision to delay, shorten winter sports season

The decision to move forward with fall sports — albeit delayed and truncated — came with considerable risk. There was no guarantee that the fall season would be completed. Even more concerning, there was no guarantee that young lives wouldn’t be put in peril.

Still, a little before 11 Saturday night, the PIAA fall sports season came to a close with Central York’s football loss to St. Joseph’s Prep in the PIAA Class 6-A state title game.

A season unlike any other: In the end, it was a Pennsylvania high school season unlike any other.

There were numerous postponements, cancellations and forfeits. Some teams or individuals with league, district and state championship hopes saw those dreams dashed by the outbreak. And most contests featured limited fans — sometimes zero fans.

None of those issues should've surprised anyone. Most everyone knew, before the games began this fall, that there were going to be major bumps in the road.

The coronavirus was most definitely in charge every step of the way.

Still, in the end, the fall season was completed without any major tragedies. That’s a major victory.

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The York-Adams League, meanwhile, seemed to navigate the outbreak better than most state high school conferences, experiencing comparatively few disruptions.

Much credit to pass around: There are multiple folks who deserve some credit for that.

The players, who, for most part, obeyed the rules when it came to COVID-19 protocols. Teenagers are notorious for their rebellious nature, but for the last few months they mostly wore their masks, washed their hands and maintained social distance. They knew their high school sports seasons depended on it.

The athletic directors, administrators and coaches, who rolled with every punch despite a season full of ever-changing restrictions and constant scheduling headaches.

And the fans and parents, who had to adjust to the “new normal” that often kept them out of the stands and instead forced them to watch the games on livestreams on their computers, tablets and phones.

None of those involved were happy about the situation, and some folks expressed their dismay. For the most part, however, they accepted it and adjusted to it, usually with calm resignation and relative civility.

They should be congratulated for that. It wasn’t easy.

Bigger challenge looms: Now, an even bigger challenge looms — winter sports, which will be played completely indoors, compared to the outdoor sports that dominate the fall season. That presents a whole host of new dangers.

The pandemic is surging, and the prospects for starting and finishing the winter season are uncertain, at best. Another shortened and delayed season, full of changes and disruptions, seems likely.

Still, if the fall has proven anything, it’s that folks working together and behaving responsibly can accomplish seemingly impossible missions.