Friday Night Lights in April? Girls soccer in the middle of June? That could very well be the scenario that unfolds today when the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Board of Control meets to discuss the possibility of moving the 2020 high school fall sports season to the spring of 2021, and subsequently moving the 2021 spring sports season to a shortened summer season.
Is it a foolproof plan? Hardly. But these are unprecedented times that call for drastic measures. And let’s face it: Our student-athletes deserve the chance to compete. To be on the playing field with their teammates relishing every moment of the high school experience.
They’ve endured enough heartache already through the COVID-19 pandemic that if the Battle for the Monterey Rock football game happens in the spring or the running of the prestigious Midwest Invitational is pushed back into April, so be it. It’s better than not having the chance to compete at all.
Under the plan, which was submitted by district administrators from the southwest area of Wisconsin, fall sports would begin in March and wrap up in late May. The 2021 spring sports season would begin at the end of May and extend into the last weekend of June or early July. The 2020-21 school year officially concludes at the end of June, so continuing into July likely would need a waiver or approval by schools.
The 10 athletic directors of the Big Eight Conference voted unanimously Tuesday to not hold conference competitions or crown conference champions for this fall’s sports season.
And according to Janesville Craig athletic director and president of the Big Eight athletic directors Ben McCormick, they were all in favor of moving the fall season to the spring.
Again, and I can’t stress this enough, isn’t a postponement of fall sports to the spring a better option than canceling the entire season?
My guess is that the WIAA rules in favor of the proposal. The Big Eight Conference, when you include all sports, is the most powerful in the state.
The Big Eight has crowned more state champions in all sports than any other conference and it’s not even close. Plus, Madison is the site of the girls tennis, football, girls golf and girls swimming and diving state championships. If the fall sports season is pushed back two weeks like has been talked about, I’ve got to believe that Madison will choose to not host all those state tournaments.
Football always has been and always will be the bell cow for the WIAA. The tournament series is a huge money-maker, capped by the two-day, seven-division championship games at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. You could easily play those games at the end of May, and just think how much nicer it would be for the players and fans to not have to play or sit through frigid conditions as is often the case in late November.
My esteemed colleague, Tom Miller, suggests that moving spring sports to the summer would be difficult because many kids would be working or doing what kids do during the summer after their senior year.
I agree to disagree with Tom on that.
Most public schools are done the first or second week of June, depending on how many snow days may have been needed to survive Old Man Winter. If the spring sports season ends in late June or early July, that’s only two or three weeks, at most, between the end of the school year and the end of the spring sports season.
Nothing beats competing at state in track and field, or a Parker vs. Craig tournament baseball game at Riverside Park that would make the majority of devoted athletes choose work or something else over the adrenaline that comes with being on the playing field with your teammates. Besides, kids could certainly work during the day after school is out for two or three weeks and then show up for practice or games between 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.
The other variable that comes with moving sports seasons around is the large influx of athletes that play on a club or traveling teams in the offseason.
Unfortunately, the decision on whether to play with your high school team or your club or traveling team is going to be a difficult one. It’s a tough call, and I know for a fact that some coaches will not let their players compete for a club team during the high school season. Mom and dad are going to have to sit down with their child and choose what they feel is the best option.
But when it comes to moving fall sports to the spring, and spring to the summer, I feel there’s only one option.
I’d rather watch Craig play Parker in football in April then not watch them play at all.