We did it, folks.
We survived the 2020 fall high school sports season.
It was weird. It was unprecedented. But most importantly, it was successful.
And it took a whole lot of people pulling in the same direction, which is not unlike the philosophy used by teams on the fields and courts of play.
Back in August, the Ohio High School Athletic Association laid out detailed and strict guidelines that schools were to follow in non-contact and contact sports. For the contests to function, equipment was to be sanitized, oftentimes during a game. Locker rooms were no longer available to visiting teams in some sports. Athletes were to keep distance from each other on the sidelines. Athletes not participating in the moment had to put masks on.
In volleyball, freshman and junior varsity players could be found sitting in different corners of the gym, wiping down balls in between points. On soccer fields, teammates brought lawn chairs from home so they could sit further apart. On football fields, referees made sure not to touch the ball between plays when setting up the line of scrimmage.
Then there were the bleachers and seating areas at all of our athletic venues. With stadium and gym capacities limited, parents, family members and friends followed the rules, masking up, maintaining social distance from other spectators and exiting those venues in a timely fashion to avoid congregating in a small space.
In order to keep everything running smoothly, regardless of the sport, school staff, custodians, athletic directors and coaches had to be vigilant and work extra hours to ensure everything was COVID-19 compliant. They were the ones cleaning every surface imaginable, installing sneeze guards in their press boxes, reorganizing and sanitizing weight rooms and even scheduling group workout times during the summer over Zoom when many schools weren’t allowed to hold their usual off-season programs. They were also the ones posting signage and taping off bleachers to help keep people six feet apart.
If you know the people who set up live streams of games this season, thank them. They were the ones bringing you the action at home if you couldn’t be there in person.
To the athletes who did all you could to ensure you could play your season out: pat yourselves on the back. It took maturity and discipline to pull this season off. These traits will serve you well long past your playing days.
On Sept. 18 for a football game between Amherst and visiting Avon Lake, I was stationed behind one end zone at the start of the first quarter–where media were required to stand–and decided I would migrate closer to one sideline where I could see the action a little better. I moseyed up the track and was almost parallel to the 20-yard line when I was approached by school athletic director Casey Wolf, who politely reminded me of where I was supposed to be.
In the moment, I was bummed because my vantage point behind the end zone wasn’t great. Quickly, though, I felt a sense of appreciation, because it meant Wolf and his staff cared about following rules to the letter and that the process was working.
This season was a major adjustment for all of us. Its completion was never promised.
But you did it. And thanks to all of you, I got to write about it.
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