Heading Back In The Right Direction

July 26th, 2020

Well, fingers crossed, it's a slim possibility that Arizona has learned its deadly lesson. After being the focus of national and international news as a state with a whole lot of dumbasses running around unmasked and uncaring, the state is finally heading back down in significant numbers, if ever so slowly. Arizona is still considered a hot spot and things can still get worse if there are a significant number of people who refuse to believe in science. 

It has now been four grim months since we had our last day of games, but I'm actually getting back to being hopeful that we will be able to resume play in a reasonable amount of time. When it first hit in mid-March, I thought we'd be back by mid- to late-June. When the venue opened up on a limited basis, I was told to look at late July/early August. Then, the knuckleheads ran wild and the venue (and much of the state) had to close down again. These next couple weeks could be crucial.

Speaking of the next couple weeks, the NBA starts back up this week and the playoffs aren't far off. It will be divine.

Changing the subject, I am greatly concerned about high-school sports. Because of the surge in COVID-19 cases in the state, nobody is really certain what is going to happen with schools re-opening. The Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) has basically said that they are planning to go ahead with Fall sports...until they say that they're not. They've pushed the start of the seasons back into early September and shortened the football season, but nobody really knows what to expect. Several football coaches have asked that their season be flipped to the Spring, but then baseball and softball coaches don't want to move their seasons to the Fall, lest they be canceled again.

As a writer and a coach, I have the reputation of being something of a pain-in-the-butt. I have written to both the governor and the head of the AIA, telling both of them that the solution to this awful, once-in-a-century situation is really not that hard. Instead of flip-flopping and trying to move stuff around, why not just push everything back? Use August, September, and October to get schooling going again the right (and safe) way. By Thanksgiving, we should know if there's going to be a vaccine anytime soon. (Although, here's the safest bet of all time: Watch for Trump to announce a vaccine right before the election, whether one is ready or not.) There may also be some sort of herd immunity settling in. A lot of epidemiologists say that a population has to hit a 70% immunity rate before a virus will die out, but some countries in Europe are showing herd immunity at a much-lower rate (some as low as 20%). We really don't know much about it, however, so we can't put our hopes on that.

Anyway, start football and volleyball practice after Thanksgiving and have the first games the first week back in January. Those sports can go January and February, with playoffs in March. Basketball, wrestling and soccer can go March and April, with playoffs in May. Baseball, softball and track & field can start in May and go into the summer. This is not unprecedented. Iowa has been playing high-school baseball in the summer for decades. Kids have their senior season after they've graduated. It works out fine. This would give everybody their cherished senior season--a weird one, to be sure--but memories to last a lifetime. 

There would be pushback on this idea, mostly from club coaches, but since nobody really gives a crap about club sports, so what? It would be a one-time deal and the 21-22 season would be back to normal. 

As for the League, it will resume. I promise. I'm a meticulous record-keeper and I have all of the information from when play was frozen. It will be a glorious day when we get back in the gym. It will be all smiles and joy. And then I'll toss the ball up to start the game and it will be, "Tom, you suck! You missed that call!" That, too, will bring smiles and joy. Hang in. We'll get there.