Football in the spring? Softball in the fall? Could be
Imagine the Bishop England baseball team beginning its quest for yet another state championship when the Battling Bishops begin the season in the fall of 2020.
Or, imagine sitting in the stands at Philip Simmons High School for the Iron Horses’ first game of the football season sometime in the spring of 2021.
Or, imagine no high school sports at all for the 2020-21 academic year.
It is because it is a crazy time in the world, and the sports world — at all levels, from rec leagues to colleges to the professional leagues — is no exception as the coronavirus pandemic beats down on the Palmetto state.
On June 25, South Carolina High School League commissioner Jerome Singleton, concerned by the staggering increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the Palmetto state, said discussions about resuming sports for the 2020-21 academic year couldn’t go forward without a dramatic drop in cases.
“The safety and health status of our student-athletes and coaching professionals are our primary concern,” Singleton said in a June 25 press release. “We are facing a complex future, but I wholeheartedly believe in our membership to do what is in the best interest of the individuals and communities of South Carolina.”
The coronavirus cases in South Carolina have increased dramatically since May, when businesses and life took a step toward normalcy. The High School League issued guidelines in May about student-athletes returning to gyms to prep for the fall sports season. But since then, the number of cases have increased daily and set records daily in the state, which is considered a hot spot in the nation.
“It’s still up in limbo,” Bishop England athletic Paul Runey responded when asked about a football season this fall. “The proposal is to play low-risk sports in the fall and work out a way toward the high-risk sports in the spring.”
Hence, baseball and softball would move from spring to fall, while football, wrestling and volleyball would be contested in spring.
Runey’s counterpart at Philip Simmons, Dan Minkin, doesn’t like the proposal to move sports from one season to another.
“I don’t like the idea of a student, who already lost a season, facing the possibility of missing two seasons,” Minkin said. “That’s just not fair.”
The high school sports season came to an abrupt end in March with no spring sports champions crowned. Baseball and softball, low-risk sports, could be canceled even in the fall if the coronavirus cases increase.
“You know the upswing (in cases) is going to continue from the July 4 weekend,” Runey said. “You know it. I know it. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”
Athletics are a big part of the student experience, and environment that includes esprit de corps.
“When you put everything aside, kids need somewhere to escape,” Minkin said. “You should have seen the looks on their faces when the gyms reopened. We are blessed to have great leadership at the top, and that they have trust in us.”