The Game Plan

How sports are going to be set up this year in the midst of a pandemic

Melia Rasmussen, Sports Editor

A student runs through the gates with their bag in hand, slowing to put a mask over their face, and then proceeding to join the group of people ahead. The school has posted on their website that voluntary workouts have been cleared to start, and the day of the first practice has arrived.

     The official Oregon School Activities Association sports year began in late August, but due to growing COVID-19 cases, practices were not permitted yet. Even so, the year has been split into four seasons as a frame for when the sports might begin. 

     “[We] split it into three different sections where each of our seasons had a priority where they can get athletes and students together in a controlled environment,” Athletic Director Patrick Richards said.

“We’ve set plans now…but once we get closer to winter, there’s a lot of questions.”

— Patrick Richards

     The OSAA follows guidelines set by Governor Kate Brown to maintain social distancing and regulations in order to stay cautious. Though the workouts are not mandatory, they are still a part of the 2020-2021 OSAA year, and still need to follow the rules, although the sports seasons are looking quite different this year.

     Season one runs through the end of December and acts as an opportunity for students to get a chance to meet their teammates, get exercise, and see how everyone’s doing. Season two at the beginning of January will mark the start of winter sports such as basketball, swimming, and wrestling. Fall sports like football, volleyball, cross-country, and water polo have been moved to March and April in season three. May and June will spotlight the traditional spring sports like track and field, softball, baseball, and lacrosse.

     “We’ve set plans now and we kind of know what our schedule looks like, but once we get closer to winter, there’s a lot of questions,” Richards said in regards to concerns about the schedule. Conflicts such as what it means for competitions if the students still aren’t allowed to go back to school, and what they’ll look like if they’re allowed to happen at all. A main concern of cross-country head coach June Morris is something she sees as an equity issue: means of transportation.

“I’m just scared that they’re not going to happen at all…””

— SOPHOMORE Rebecca Ritchey

     “Cross country is a no cut sport, and it’s so easy for them after school to go change clothes and walk out to the track to a sports practice, but it changes everything if they have to ask for a ride. ” Morris said. It’s not an option for students who rode the bus or had an older sibling as a ride in the morning to just wait after school for practice, which Morris had said frustrated her because this problem cannot be fixed easily. Richards said that a plus side to any confusion is that students do not have to pay any sports fees right now.

     “With the economic hardships that a lot of our families have had…There won’t be any cost to sports, to the students, this year,” Richards said. An athlete is still required to turn in their participation form and have an updated physician’s exam, just like a coach has to have their certification done. Another paper that is needed to practice is the COVID Waiver, Richards goes on to explain, signed by a parent or guardian that says the school is not responsible for any issues relating to COVID that a student athlete may have. Coaches of individual sports will detail interested students more on the papers they need and any rules that have been implemented. Even so, some athletes have doubts about the possibility of competitions this year.

     “I’m just scared that they’re not going to happen at all… we haven’t had tryouts, and normally we would’ve already been having games and tournaments,” sophomore Rebecca Ritchey said. A volleyball player of three years, Ritchey went to all the open gyms she could in the summer, having to follow all the new precautions. 

     “We have to wear masks all the time, get our temperatures taken, sanitize the ball and our hands [every 10 minutes]… It was still fun, but there was a lot of stuff we had to do,” Ritchey said. The state of a sport is not up for the athlete to decide, and Ritchey said that it can be annoying when having to comply with rules that restrict gameplay.

     Getting involved in the sports and activities is a good idea to not only be active, but to have something to look forward to after staring at a screen all day, Patricks said. Sports are not holding tryouts right now, and every season has a no cut sport, meaning that anyone can show and participate, for a student to email a coach about to try and have fun with. The school will update more as the start of the winter season draws nearer.

     “The thing to focus on is that it will get better, and it will change…” Morris said. “We just have to be chill about it and accept what we can do, and try to avoid getting really upset about the things that may not happen.”

Around the States Sports – Take a glimpse on how several other states are organizing their seasons