Quarantines, rescheduled games just a part of fall sports “new normal”

Published: Sep. 17, 2020 at 6:25 PM CDT
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We’re just a month into the fall season of area high school sports but it’s obvious that the disruptive effects of the coronavirus pandemic cannot be escaped no matter how hard those in charge try to implement safety measures to avoid it.

In fact, some of those safety measures are the reason the season is being disrupted.

On Friday night the Parkview Vikings were supposed to host unbeaten Kickapoo at JFK Stadium but that game has been cancelled because the Vikings are all in quarantine after possible exposures to the coronavirus.

Springfield Public School Athletic Director Josh Scott pointed out that because of privacy regulations he could not disclose details about the Vikings situation but that people should not assume that just because the whole team is in quarantine doesn’t mean the entire squad has the virus.

“Our number one concern is keeping everyone safe and these decisions are not made in a vacuum in the athletic office,” Scott said. “We are working hand-in-hand with the SPS health department and the Springfield-Greene County Health Department so if there are people who have been determined to be in close contact (with someone who has the virus), those people are being isolated.”

For Kickapoo it meant a mad scramble to find another opponent for this week in Webb City.

“It’s been a little crazy. Not gonna lie," said Chiefs Head Coach Nate Thomas.

But for Parkview it means no practices and no games until October 2 as they’ll miss the Kickapoo match-up and a game next week at Rolla.

For the next two weeks the players are confined to their homes and the coaches can only visit with them virtually.

“I’ll sent out a Zoom link to all the quarantined kids at home," explained Parkview Head Coach Ben Dougherty. "They’ll log on and me and some of the other coaches will monitor them while we give them a workout to do for that day basically to make sure we’re staying in shape.”

So maybe the quarterback can do virtual throwing to his receivers?

“He could send an e-mail maybe of him throwing the football unless they live next door to each other and throw it out the window or something," Dougherty said with a smile.

Parkview isn’t the only Springfield athletic group in quarantine. The Hillcrest Volleyball team and two other 8th grade teams are on hiatus for two weeks and the virus is causing problems in other districts as well.

The Republic volleyball and softball teams had to stop their seasons for two weeks and Clever’s new football program had to shut down after its very first game. They’re returning this week but others including Carthage, Houston, Diamond and Osceola have had to cancel their games and Pleasant Hope is playing an 8-man game instead of 11-man football this week because they don’t have enough players. Waynesville’s athletic program started the year on pause because of several cases at its school.

These are obviously challenging times and Scott was asked if he viewed dealing with the pandemic easier or harder than he thought it would be.

“I really feel like we’re in a better place than I feared," Scott said. "Coming into August there was a lot of concern and fear from athletic directors and coaches throughout the state. Look at how many senior nights schools hosted the first two weeks with the idea of having it the first home game to make sure we give these kids the opportunity.”

With football being a contact sport, it’s obviously been the biggest concern for spreading the virus.

“Another one off the top of my head I see is this winter in wrestling," Scott said.

But he says shutting down sports entirely is not a good option.

“There is an epidemic of students' mental and social health issues in the nation," he pointed out. "And a lot of that increase was from not having that outlet of athletics and activities.”

“The kids understand now that this could be taken away from them," Dougherty added. “So I think we have to continue to be flexible.”

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