By Brian McKim
Who needs some good news? Go ahead, raise your hands. I know, I know, we all do. Well, here is a little bit of good news. Our local high school sports teams are on the cusp of beginning the fall season, and so far, it looks like a go. Softball, volleyball, cross country, and football will soon begin playing competitively, and what a relief it will bring.
The NSAA has set forth a few guidelines to follow, and if that happens, we may be able to squeeze in some sports. First off, the NSAA has said teams must restrict attendance and have separate seating areas for both schools. Secondly, each team needs to have a different point of entry into the events with separate concession stands as well. Also, multiple bathrooms must be made available to keep the towns separated. The NSAA has also encouraged fans to wear masks. You may not like it, but if we want to see fall sports all the way through, masks will be an essential part of that. Finally, there must be thorough cleaning and disinfecting of frequently used areas. It has also been recommended that players, coaches, and fans have their temperatures checked before entering the venue. The NSAA has also eliminated the pre and post-game handshakes.
If all the guidelines can be met, and the student-athletes are not involved in large gatherings outside of school, the fall season can go off without a hitch. However, this process greatly depends on the athletes making the right choices on and off the playing field.
With all that being said, let’s talk about college football. It was officially announced last week that the Big Ten was shutting down all fall sports. This really comes as no surprise. On Sunday morning, NCAA Chief Medical Officer Brian Hainline told CNN that “Right now, if testing stays as it is, there’s no way we can go forward with sports.” Something parents and fans need to realize is, the conferences and NCAA are trying to make decisions that will keep kids safe. You may disagree with it, but safety really should be the biggest issue, and if they conclude that it cannot be done safely, then respect the decision and begin training for next season.
In a press conference last week, Coach Scott Frost stated that Nebraska would be looking to play football, basically regardless of what the Big Ten said. Everyone got fired up about his comments but then soon realized he has no control over that. It was a great soundbite, and it shows he will go to bat for his kids, but that’s about as far as that goes. We have a good thing in the Big Ten, and trust me; there is zero chance we go back to the Big 12. Highly likely, the Big 12 wouldn’t even want us back. Not to mention we have to give the Big ten a buyout, take a substantial cut in revenue, all to play in a conference that probably won’t have a season anyway. Just because the ACC, SEC, and Big 12 haven’t canceled the season yet, doesn’t mean it won’t happen eventually.
For now, enjoy the fact that we currently have a high school sports season. Get out and support your local teams, safely and socially distanced from others. Show the young athletes that you are behind them and show leadership by abiding by the NSAA and school recommendations. It’s an excellent opportunity for our small town to step up, support our kids, and be proactive against the spread of COVID-19.