The VHSL needs to start playing because athletes are already competing

Maybe it’s just time.

Despite what doctors and scientists say about the coronavirus and its ability to easily spread between people, maybe it’s just time to start high school sports.

Damn the virus, go ahead, full speed!

It’s not that our children are any safer than they were in August – they aren’t. It’s that it really doesn’t matter if high school sports start – they’re already happening throughout Hampton Roads with pay-to-play programs.

You’ll find anything from football at Virginia Beach Sportsplex to field hockey at the U.S. Field Hockey Regional Training Center. Soccer programs are moving forward – with the blessing of the governor’s office – and recently a team tennis program and club cross country program were started for high school athletes.

About the only organization that isn’t moving forward is the Virginia High School League, and it’s not moving because it doesn’t have the blessing of the governor’s office. And this isn’t sitting well with high school athletes, coaches, parents or fans. As a matter of fact, there are some within the VHSL membership who have a sense of frustration over the fact that the league hasn’t received approval while pay-to-play programs are moving forward.

The VHSL put together its Championship + 1 schedule and is ready to move forward with high school sports in early December. The delay was established to allow schools to open, get students back in the classroom and to learn how to handle possible outbreaks, busing and any other coronavirus-related issues. This was smart and sports shouldn’t start before December.

But, as we sit here in October, the VHSL is still waiting for guidance. Unless the governor’s office gives its blessing, high school sports can’t happen in Phase 3. As of right now, the VHSL hasn’t heard it cannot play, but it hasn’t received permission either. The league is stuck in limbo.

There needs to be some resolution between the VHSL and the governor’s office, giving people a better picture of what’s going to happen or what needs to happen as we approach December.

If there isn’t any clarity as we enter November, it might be time for the VHSL to take the lead from the pay-to-play folks. The VHSL may need to say, “We’re playing if we have permission or not and if you don’t like it, enforce the rules across the board.” From that point, high school sports will open. The state will be forced to either let the schools play or stop the VHSL – along with everyone else.

In addition, the VHSL can establish state-wide regulations that could help hinder the spread of coronavirus while athletes compete. Will athletes, coaches and referees still get exposed to the virus? It’s a definite possibility. Will it cause spreading to parents or grandparents? It certainly could. Are there dangers to doing this? Undoubtedly. Could schools be forced to shutter again? Yep. But it doesn’t matter.

If the VHSL doesn’t start the kids are just going to sign up for clubs and play there. The same issues we worry about and we’re looking to stop will happen in other arenas.

So, go ahead, restart everything. Just one small caveat: Be prepared for the consequences of your actions.

Greg Giesen 757-446-2309, [email protected]

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