The Spring 2021 season will see the return of outdoor sports for high schools across Fairfax County and the state of Virginia as a whole. Sports such as baseball, softball, soccer, tennis, and lacrosse would seem to be well disposed to dealing with the current demands required due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Virginia High School League however has taken extra precautions and created new guidance in 2020 with the hope that it can prevent any potential spread of the virus during these competitions. The League serves 318 schools throughout the Commonwealth and sets the standards for school sports events and competitions. Those precautions are outlined in their rules of participation which was based off of recommendations made by several organizations including the Center for Disease Control and the Virginia Department of Health.
The recommendations are designed to decrease the potential spread of the virus through the sweat of the competitors which is how experts believe the virus is spread. While it may be impossible to do so on the field, the new guidelines set out to prevent such a spread while the players are at rest on the sidelines.
This means of course that spectators are going to be at best limited from attending the games, this was something very noticeable through the Winter 2020-2021 season regardless of whether they were watching basketball, track, or gymnastics.
The wearing of masks on the field will remain optional as there may be trouble breathing for some competitors while in active competition. The coaches however will be required to wear masks while on the sidelines and especially when dealing with other field crew such as referees, ball crews, field crews, etc.
Pre-game workouts won’t require masks for the players either but distancing will be required whether it be distancing players six feet apart or in pods made up of those who are certain to not have the virus. Distancing will be required on the bench as well as disinfection protocols for equipment such as clean game balls, bats, etc.
Trying to limit the physical interaction between player on the field may be one aspect which will be the hardest to enforce. It may be easier to enforce things such as not sharing water bottles and toweling off in between rounds has also become required but the banning of celebrations during the game such as high-fives, hugging, handshakes, and fist bumps would be a tougher accomplishment.
This aspect isn’t just hard since celebrations in the heat of the game are very hardwired in competition but also in the ideas of sportsmanship which are ingrained in players.
Let’s hope for a safe and fun season this spring.