Being out of town for the first half of June, I missed out on the governors and Arkansas Activities Association press release about phasing in team sports which began this month.
Driving by Blackhawk Stadium last week, I saw the 2020 football team working out on the field and realized that at least some things were returning to normal, then I got on to the AAA website and read their Phase 1 instructions.
None of them were unusual as we have kind of been doing those things for a while now. Youth over the age of 10 are advised to wear a mask when practicing outdoors though it is not mandatory. Athletes working out indoors, however, are required to wear masks. Either indoor or out, bodily contact is discouraged like high fiving, fist bumping, the like.
Before anyone attending a practice can be admitted in, he/she (whether an athlete, staff or coach) must not have a fever in excess of 100.4, and they must not have been exposed to anyone with the covid-19 virus in the last 19 days. Coughing, sore throats, etc., is also taboo.
I read in the news that the planned move into Phase 2 may be delayed due to a perceived rise in covid-19 cases, so we will just do what we have been doing now for months. Wait.
Each state has their own response to their perceived danger of this novel pandemic. Arriving at the Bentonville airport on June 1, everyone in the terminal was masked and those arriving without were quickly given one of those paper ones. Arriving in Destin, Fla., after the flight was a big change as next to no one was wearing one. Traveling across the state, most travelers were not using them though most (but not all) workers in businesses were using them according to their company policies. The state of Florida ruled that it was an individual decision.
I have read that Minnesota will begin letting actual games between teams take place this week, including high school football and basketball, though rules state that teams competing in games must avoid contact between players. I'm not sure how that will work as both sports are by definition contact sports.
With all the advice being broadcast about the need for testing, I was recently checked for the virus, a test which proved negative. I always have a physical done in June and I thought I may have had the virus in December when I was feeling what I later learned were all the symptoms of the disease. Since I was in a clinic offering free testing, I thought I would just do it. The test was negative so whatever ailed me back in December wasn't the dread covid-19.
Having taught for 43 years, I have witnessed and lived through a lot of things affecting schools. Floods, snowstorms, violent spring storms and outbreaks of illnesses have come and gone but none with the impact this covid-19 panic has had. I'd like to be a wise sage and say "this too shall pass." I definitely hope that it does and soon.
Blackhawk coach, player named to All Star staff, roster
Girls basketball coach Heath Neal was named to the Arkansas West High School All-Star coaching staff for the 2020 Games. I haven't learned if the games will actually be held. Earlier, tight end/receiver Brayden Ralph was named to the Arkansas West All-Star team.
Since baseball and softball teams didn't get very far into their season before the schedule was erased due to the panic, there is no All-Star team for those sports in 2020.
Will the NFL season bite the dust?
The NFL league office has been consistent in stating they believe they will begin the 2020 season Sept. 10 when the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs play host to the Houston Texans. At present, all NFL players have been working out on their own in preparation of team camps opening in late July.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the controversial director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has other thoughts.
"Unless players are essentially in a bubble, insulated from the community and tested nearly every day, it would be very hard to see how football is able to play this fall," Dr. Fauci related.
Being in a bubble means the players should have no contact with the outside world and stay kind of quarantined with their teammates and coaches until the end of their season. The odds of that happening would be less than the odds of the NFL adopting flag football rules.
There has been talk of the NBA finishing their pro basketball season with a tournament with no spectators allowed and significant testing. I don't see that happening, but it could. I also read that professional soccer may go the isolation route to have their season. That might work in the U.S. with so few attending pro soccer games anyway. Social distancing would be doable.
For those that may not be aware, the XFL suspended their football season back in March. The Dallas Renegades, DC Defenders, Houston Roughnecks, Los Angeles Wildcats, New York Guardians, St. Louis Battlehawks, Seattle Dragons and Tampa Bay Vipers make up the fledgling league.
The XFL was halfway through a 10-game season when play was called. Houston led the West Division with a 5-0 record with DC, St. Louis, and New York tied for the lead in the East with 3-2 marks.
The XFL actually played before with the league closing up shop after the 2001 season. They were financially harmed when the 2001 terror attack on the World Trade Center led to a short economic downturn. They start up again 19 years later right before a big virus attack which is pushing the world into a recession/depression.
The XFL needs to work on their timing.
Editor's note: John McGee, an award-winning columnist, sports writer and art teacher at Pea Ridge elementary schools, writes a regular sports column for The Times. The opinions expressed are those of the writer. He can be contacted through The Times at [email protected]