COLUMN: The show should not go on

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, the upcoming high school season poses significant concerns.


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  • | 12:29 p.m. August 19, 2020
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With those six simple words, “The show should not go on,” I’ve already lost a chunk of our audience.

But hear me out.

The truth is — and this absolutely kills me to say it — there is no safe means the upcoming fall season can happen. And honestly, I don’t know if there’s even a way the winter season can happen.

If you’ve been paying attention to the ongoing saga of the Florida High School Athletic Association’s attempt to wrestle the bear that is the upcoming high school athletic season, you know this isn’t an easy decision. It took eight hours — across two meetings — to come to the conclusion to postpone fall sports until Aug. 24. 

And before the FHSAA handed down its ruling — which it later upheld in a meeting Friday, Aug. 14 — Orange County Public Schools immediately said, in its best Randy Jackson voice, “It’s gonna be a no from me, dawg,” and indefinitely postponed all fall sports. 

The thing is, and I can’t believe I’m saying this: OCPS is right.

Listen, I’m not a doctor — just going into medical facilities gives me anxiety — but if you look around at what’s going on at other levels of athletics, it’s obvious to see why continuing forward with the fall season will be problematic.

At the professional level, the NBA, MLS and NWSL have handled COVID-19 by putting its players, staff and coaches into a bubble. The guidelines are incredibly strict for the NBA and MLS players occupying Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports right down the road. So far, it has worked — not a single one of the 344 NBA players tested since July 20 has come back positive. Why is that? Because they are under the guidelines in place.

But while the NBA is chugging along at full steam, the MLB — which isn’t utilizing a protective bubble — is plagued by COVID-19. So far, more than 20 games have been canceled — disastrous for an already-shortened 60-game season. Some teams — such as the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals — have seen significant COVID-19 outbreaks, with dozens testing positive. 

Then, at the collegiate level, several football programs — including Michigan State and Rutgers — have had to be shut down due to spikes of COVID-19, while the Mid-American Conference became the first FBS league to cancel its football season, before the PAC 12 and Big Ten joined in. Most recently, the NCAA canceled all Division I, II and III fall athletics. Along with the quarantines and cancelations, players from across the country have voiced their concerns about the upcoming season and the safety measures in place not being enough, while some leagues already have canceled their fall seasons.

If multi-billion-dollar athletic organizations and the top athletics programs in the country — with all their funding and medical staffing — can’t protect the health of their own players and staff, how do we expect high schools to do so? 

Schools don’t have the resources to provide a safe, protective bubble such as the NBA or NHL. The risks are high and affect everyone’s health — including that of the older populations involved with athletics — and the thought of having to write an obituary frightens me.

I know every player, coach and fan wants to have things go back to normal and have a regular season — I want it more than anything, as well, for the sake of both my sanity and paycheck — but these are not regular times.

But if we are going to have a season — which may happen given that some, such as Foundation Academy and the new Private School Athletic Association, are doing their own thing now — please, for the love of sports and one another, wear a mask and social distance to the best of your ability.

 

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