This season will be so different.
High school and college basketball won’t be played in a bubble, as the NBA’s delayed season was just a few weeks ago.
There won’t be any student sections.
In some cases, there won’t be any spectators at all.
There will be masks.
And there should be.
A long list of requirements began to roll down from the governor’s office last week, which then causes the state’s athletic associations to make decisions, and then it’s on to the conferences and to each individual school.
What took so long?
We all want to return to normalcy. We want to go to athletic events, we want to go to a school play or a school musical performance, maybe a debate competition. There are no school dances. There is no hanging around the concession area and high-fiving your buddies or gal pals.
We’re just not ready yet.
So put on the mask and smile. There is another option that doesn’t end up so well, and too many families are living the pandemic nightmare.
So … what now?
Basketball and wrestling seasons around here won’t look like they have in any other year, and it will most definitely be a moving target. Some school districts are already moving back to full online models. Some practices are closed to the public and media.
Many schools are making plans for athletic events to be shown online. That’s where we are right about now.
As of now, each student-athlete will receive two tickets to distribute as he or she likes. That might mean two parents get tickets, or two friends, or some kind of a combination. That pretty much kills the student sections. For now, at least.
All must be masked, including athletes when they’re not on the floor or on the mat. Cheerleaders, coaches, official scorer, me. All masked.
The spectators who were ticketed to attend a junior varsity game do not have the same privilege for a varsity game. So, if you’re arriving early for a varsity game, think again. Chances are, you won’t be let in. Gyms will have to be cleared and cleaned between every game.
If you happen to have a child playing in both the JV and varsity, then you get to stay in the gym, per Mid-Prairie’s policy.
This is our new normal.
Now here comes the really interesting part. The state’s requirements expire at midnight Dec. 10.
So, what then?
This is a moving target, a situation that has affected every school district and its board members since last spring. Do we go hybrid, or not? Should we require masks? Are shields OK? Or not?
Basketball coaches have to worry more about COVID-19 than a zone defense.
Expect the unexpected, a routine we have gotten used to in 2020. Games will be canceled, probably with more frequency than they were in the fall.
This is a season that our kids will tell their kids about one day. Masks will be framed and mounted on a wall.
I can’t wait to finally say that.