WCPSS plans for indoor sports to return before outdoor ones

The+schedule+for+sports+to+return+based+on+the+guidelines+created+by+the+Wake+County+School+Board.+This+includes+the+workout+periods%2C+live+periods+and+beginning+of+seasons.

The schedule for sports to return based on the guidelines created by the Wake County School Board. This includes the workout periods, live periods and beginning of seasons.

Adam Shefet, Editorials Assistant Editor

For months, Wake County parents and student athletes have wondered if and when sports would be resumed for the 2020-2021 school year after last year’s abrupt cancellation of all sports in March due to COVID-19. Sept. 15, the Wake County Board of Education presented a plan to return to sports that could begin as soon as October.

The plan proposes start times for when each sport can begin practicing twice a week and the start of their regular seasons. The first sports that would be allowed to begin practices are cross country and volleyball Oct.1 with other sports to follow on a rolling calendar. Both the cross country and volleyball regular seasons are set to start Nov. 1. Other sports such as swimming, basketball and cheerleading would begin workouts Oct. 19, followed by lacrosse and boys soccer workouts on Nov. 9. Football would begin Nov. 30, the latest of all fall and winter sports.

While it is great that students can return to sports in the near future, the order in which each sport returns is questionable. One of the first sports to return and play competitive games is volleyball. Returning a sport that not only requires a ball that is touched by players’ hands, but is also indoors, does not seem like the right call in order to minimize the spread while still allowing students to play. 

Following volleyball there are other indoor sports such as swimming and basketball. In basketball, there are 10 players on a relatively small court. Each player has an assignment on defense that they must follow and guard, meaning there are five 1-on-1 match-ups constantly in each other’s personal space. This is especially true for the bigger players near the basket where physical contact is almost a constant when playing both offense and defense.

Ironically the sports that are beginning last are the ones that seem the most low risk. Although soccer and football have 22 players and lacrosse has 20, they are on an outdoor field that is at least 90 yards long. Soccer and lacrosse players have no man-to-man assignments and spend the majority of the time running into space rather than constantly being pressured by an opponent. Football players have face masks and gloves that would reduce body contact and often line up several yards from teammates and opponents.

One major positive with the plan proposed to Wake County is the allowance of up to five optional practices, two to three weeks before the season starts called the “live period.” This is actually more time than most teams had between tryouts and the first game in past years. This is imperative because if athletes cannot compete at least within their team before the season, injuries would be sure to rise. Cases like this are already evident in the NFL as the league is seeing a spike in injuries after not competing in pre-season games.

Overall the plan proposed has the right idea in mind: to have students return to sports as soon as possible while maintaining the safety of the student athletes. But the details are where it falls short. The order of sports could have negative effects on the players in regards to the health and spread of COVID-19.