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Changes to high school sports not optimal, but necessary

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What? Is this a joke?

Nope, it’s today’s harsh COVID-19 reality.

High school sports in the state were turned upside down this week as the high school football season was moved to the spring.

In addition, the basketball season — girls and boys — won’t start until January, while baseball, track & field and other traditional spring sports won’t begin until May and will last through June.

And that, frankly, is a very optimistic scenario.

The COVID-19 pandemic just continues to wreak havoc on our lives.

But it’s the high school athletes who will be most be impacted by this decision by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Executive Board.

While creating four shorter sports seasons rather than the traditional three is far from perfect, it’s better than simply bagging prep sports for the next year.

Making it all work starts with adjusting expectations. It’s going to be different than what we have all experienced.

It means, for example, there will likely be fewer games and less time between seasons for multi-sports athletes to recover between sports.

Beyond that, many high school athletes also participate on club teams during the off season. Since the off season could now be the regular season, adjustments will have to be made.

Let’s hope the schedules are set in such a way that off-campus sports, such as AAU basketball or baseball travel teams, don’t hinder participation in high school sports.

The experience of being on a high school team, representing your community, is a special one. It allows those in school together, often life-long friends, to be a team. It’s often a bonding experience that lasts a lifetime.

Nobody, including WIAA officials, can control the coronavirus. Given that, the solution — albeit one written in pencil, as the WIAA executive director said — needs to be given a chance to work.

The plan is to have only a smattering of sports in the fall, such as cross country and some swimming, golf and tennis. Those seasons would end the first part of November.

November and December would be left open, with basketball, wrestling, gymnastics, swimming and other winter sports starting on Jan. 4.

Football, volleyball, girls soccer and other fall sports would start March 1 and end on May 2. Baseball, softball, track & field, boys soccer and other spring sports would then start April 26 and end on June 27.

Again, not optimal, but a reasonable schedule and much better than canceling athletics.

Of course, safety for the players, coaches and fans must be the top priority.