You have to feel for school officials.In the past five months, they have had to change their teaching methods on the run. The teachers, bless their hearts, went from conducting classes in rooms to going virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic.
I’m sure there were hiccups, but they pulled it off. They are the MVPs of the year in my book.
The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association had to pull the plug on the boys and girls state basketball tournaments.
Then they canceled the entire spring sports season.
The coronavirus has stuck around, despite our leader’s claim in March that it would just disappear like magic.
There has been no magic and with no vaccine or end in sight, school officials and the WIAA are back making tough decisions that no one wants, but decisions that have to be made.
The Big Eight Conference became the first conference in the state to can its fall sports season Tuesday.
It is a sure bet that all others will follow.
Janesville plans to hold classes in schools. This would benefit the many parents who have to work, and it is the best way to educate.
But the way things are, it is going to be difficult to pull off.
The WIAA also is back in a spot never imagined, even in March.
Fall sports—girls and boys cross country, football, girls golf, boys soccer, girls swimming, girls tennis, boys volleyball and girls volleyball—all face the same fate spring sports did.
So WIAA officials will meet today to discuss ways to go in these times with the invisible threat still in the air.
Nothing will be perfect. Nothing will be close to perfect.
One proposal officials will look into will be to move the fall sports season to spring.
The normal—can we use that word now?—spring sports (baseball, girls soccer, boys tennis, girls and boys track and field, boys golf and softball) would move to a one-time summer season.
That proposal floated out last week and resulted in a voicemail to the sports department by a long-time Janesville coach who is now retired.
He disagreed with that proposal. More accurately, disagreed vehemently with that proposal.
“You will never get any support from me for such a (expletive) idea,” he said. “How in the hell can you have kids graduate from high school and then play sports in the summer? Ridiculous.”
Like any proposal to anything associated with the coronavirus, some will agree and some will disagree.
I agree with the caller.
Youngsters, and especially seniors, will have no incentive to play high school sports in the summer. Seniors will either want to work to begin a career or to make money for college or tech schools. With no school in session, would athletic codes be in affect?
Coaches essentially will be working year-round.
With the abundance of traveling teams and summer leagues, top players in those sports likely would not go out for a high school team.
Summer traveling teams were cited as one of the main reasons the WIAA Board of Control voted to eliminate summer high school baseball in the spring of 2018.
The American Legion baseball program will have to be canned for the second straight season.
Essentially, it would erase the spring sports season for two straight years.
What is a solution?
The easiest solution would be to cancel the fall sports season, just as this year’s spring season.
Here’s another rough proposal:
Combine the cross country and track and field seasons to spring and eliminate the distance runs in track and field. Or just eliminate the cross country season.
Have girls and boys golf play in the spring—there are plenty of courses available.
Have boys and girls soccer both play in the spring—play doubleheaders featuring both a boys and girls match.
Play both boys and girls tennis in the spring.
Girls and boys volleyball could be moved to the spring.
The tricky sport is football, which requires the most athletes of any high school sport.
Here’s the problem with this proposal: there are only so many athletes available to play.
In bigger schools, you might be able to offer football, soccer, tennis, golf, cross country and track and field to boys and have enough participants.
And for girls, offer cross country and/or track and field, golf, soccer, tennis and volleyball.
But in most schools, there would not be enough athletes.
So you have to cut sports or make one-year co-op deals.
Some schools would not have teams in certain conference sports.
Football might have to take a season off—or two or three other boys sports would have to be cut. Having no football would be unpopular—especially with the sport being a high-revenue activity.
Nothing will satisfy everyone.
And here is the scariest elephant in the room: conditions likely aren’t going to improve by November when the winter sports seasons begin.
School and WIAA officials just dropped their heads.