Skip to main content

The Yankee Express

Winter sports look different in COVID times

Dec 04, 2020 03:10PM ● By Peter Coyle

Happy Holidays and please remain safe during these uncertain times. Follow the rules and hopefully a vaccine for COVID is right around the corner.  Since February 2020, we have all been affected by the invisible virus in some way and found out we really aren’t as good or smart as we thought we were. The vaccine is coming. Lesson learned and humility has been a huge part of our identity for almost a year.

Since this space is all about athletes and their different phases and approaches to their craft, let’s imagine being in our formative years or growing years back in the day or teenage years to be exact. Middle school, high school and college. No school to go to daily, no after school extra curricular activities, and weekends on Walton’s Mountain with your mom and pop and siblings. Add to that having to wear a mask while in public and practice social distancing equals not a good recipe for living. This age group in our country has had their emotional growth stunted by COVID-19 and hopefully a vaccine will be here after the New Year 2021 to get everyone back to their normal routines.

No Thanksgiving Day football games, no dance recitals, no band practice, no cross country meets, no soccer games, etc. No fun for anyone in that age bracket of 13-22.

The MIAA has put together their plan to bring back winter sports starting on December 14, only 14 days later than the usual start of winter sports for high school athletes. With a vaccine coming our way in January, why is the MIAA risking the health of so many when they have been patient with 2020 spring sports and careful with the recent 2020 fall sports schedule? The MIAA was doing fine and their plan of easement with outdoor sporting decisions worked. But this is winter and inside venues are where sports are played. The decision-makers at the MIAA do not understand the risk of only waiting 14 days to start the winter indoor season. The vaccine is on its way. Mid January is six weeks away. Taking on this monster called COVID is not in the best interest of the kids or officials who have to take the chance of spreading this disease. Playing by the rules and keeping COVID outside is still risky, but bringing that COVID bomb inside is a mistake. Modifying the way the games are going to be played is grandstanding at its best. We all know the MIAA is trying to get athletes back to playing sports. Just leave COVID outside. Waiting for the vaccine another month and a half isn’t going to make or break these athletes’ dreams any more than it has done already. 

Safety first. The long list of modifications or new rules put in for basketball and hockey in an attempt to make exposures as safe as possible is like re-inventing the wheel. The new rules are actually well thought out, but ridiculous at the same time. COVID basketball and hockey are not the normal basketball and hockey. So why even play 6-8 games and then the vaccine arrives in mid-January.

Here are a few rule modifications for the sport of basketball. Players must wear masks and use their own water bottles. Players cannot help each other up by using their hands. Is there another way to help somebody up? Pre and post game handshakes and high fives are eliminated. If you are being guarded, you can only dribble the ball for five seconds.The poor referees who have to explain these rules when they blow their whistle are the guys who should get a pay raise. The officials are in for long nights trying to explain these COVID rules after every whistle. 

Doesn’t look like much fun and these kids who just want to have fun after the best years of their young lives have been put on pause. Imagine your son or daughter guarding an opponent who is dribbling the basketball in a game and the referee blows the whistle because the player dribbling the ball dribbled over the five second limit. Why would the team dribbling the ball lose possession of the ball? Defending the dribbler in a tight man-to-man defense for six seconds sounds good doesen’t it? Am I missing something? The offensive team can only dribble the ball for five seconds if a man to man defense is being played. 

Merry Christmas and this COVID will pass us by soon.