Will wonders never cease?
While West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has set a tentative plan for high school winter sports to resume on March 1, he’s now, apparently, open to the possibility of having that be the actual start of live competition, leaving the door open for some form of pre-season conditioning
Justice hasn’t officially committed to the idea just yet, but he’s at least giving it some thought.
“From the standpoint of us playing sports and everything like that, we may very well look at March 1 as the game start date,” Justice said at Monday’s press briefing in Charleston. “And we may very well step back and look at conditioning and everything like that. But we know one thing for certain, don’t we? We cannot be moving sports ahead of everything and absolutely starting back and playing sports in seven days. Do we not know that?”
At the moment, teams are prohibited from any kind of organized workouts through the school system. At some areas across the Mountain State, athletes are taking some actions to play on their own.
Dave Tallman, the head boys’ basketball coach at Morgantown High School, told Metro News recently with such a long layoff, there’s been a few players going south to find someplace to play.
“We had two players go play in Myrtle Beach last week,” Tallman said. “That’s what is going on. ‘Big Shots’ is having tournaments. A lot of people are going to make money off of this and our guys are going to go play at other places.”
Under normal circumstances, athletes are restricted, under WVSSAC rules, as to where and when they play outside of the high school programs. When winter sports activities were first suspended on Nov. 13 of last year, WVSSAC released athletes from those restrictions.
Some athletes considered transferring out of state to play at schools not under any suspensions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Who could blame them if they chose not to come back when West Virginia high school winter sports resumed?
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EVEN SOME state legislators are weighing on this.
State Sen. William Ihlelfield (D-Ohio) told Metro News he doesn’t understand the logic behind the governor’s decision to delay the restart of winter sports until March 1.
“I don’t understand how on Jan. 19 we are going to put 1,500 kids in the hallways at Wheeling Park High School, and when the bell rings at 2:30 they are all going to get on the busses and get in their cars and go home,” Ihlelfield said. “Yet we can’t let 10 kids go down to the gym and run up and down the floor and practice basketball with a coach standing there with a mask on. That just doesn’t make sense to me. That is not consistent.”
Justice has reassured everyone he is not trying to control the situation.
“That is not the governor deciding, Justice said. The governor has to put his seal on it, but at the same time, where do these ideas come from? These ideas come from all across the sector. These ideas came from the Department of Education and our health experts.”
The impression he doesn’t care about high school sports, and he alone is making the decisions, is one Justice has taken great exception to.
“If you think, Justice doesn’t want that kids to play basketball, Justice is a basketball coach,” he said. “Give me a bloomin’ break. I want my kids to be able to play basketball more than you will ever imagine.”
It’s just unfortunate these latest developments have upset some people, but, sometimes, there’s some good coming out of it. In this case, at least, a conversation has been started. There’s hope for a winter season yet.
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AND NOW… a quick look to the warmer months ahead.
Greg Sager, president of Jefferson County Little League, said in a recent email, the league was able to put together a season last year, even under COVID-19 restrictions. JCLL did have a district tournament for the 10-12 teams, winning the championship for the second straight year.
“We hope to get the chance to defend the title again this year,” Sager said. “This year’s 12-year-olds won the West Virginia state tournament in the 8-9-10 division and represented West Virginia in the tournament of state champions a couple of years ago.”
Little League Baseball’s international headquarters in Williamsport, Pa. did not hold any of its major tournaments, including it’s marquee event, the Little League World Series because of the pandemic. However, it did give local leagues some latitude when it came to holding tournaments on a localized level.
There’s nothing like opening-day events when it comes to Little League Baseball. Let’s keep our fingers crossed, hoping the spring and summer months bring the return of this popular sport.