PREP SPORTS: Hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst

ALMOST EVERY DAY, I check the number of new COVID-19 cases in each county in the state.

Sunday was not a good day — 994 new cases in Washington. A shocking 270 new cases in Yakima alone.

As of this writing, one person out of 28 has tested positive for COVID-19 in Yakima.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association is meeting Tuesday with further guidelines for fall sports expected to be announced Wednesday.

The WIAA has already postponed fall sports two weeks, pushing back the beginning of practices to early September.

California made the decision Monday to postpone fall sports until the end of 2020 or beginning of 2021. The Northwest Athletic Conference has pushed college soccer season to the spring and moved basketball to a January start with no preconference games.

And, unfortunately, we are increasingly facing the possibility that there will be no prep sports this fall in Washington. Not with 1,000 new COVID-19 cases a day in the state eight weeks before the start of the fall practices. I can’t imagine at the moment how places like Yakima or Tri-Cities (104 new cases yesterday) can play fall sports.

Complicating the issue is Gov. Jay Inslee’s edict that social gatherings now have to be limited to 10 people maximum in counties that are in Phase 3.

Port Angeles Athletic Director Dwayne Johnson said one possibility being looked at is moving fall sports to Jan. 4, 2021, with an eight-week fall season, an eight-week winter season and an eight-week spring season, with likely some overlaps and championships being held in the summer after the conclusion of school.

Again, that’s just a possibility. Everything is completely up in the air, and no decisions have been made. Johnson said West-Central District athletic directors will be getting together Thursday to discuss the local schedule.

“We’re not doing anything without schedule until we get a mandate from the WIAA,” he said. Johnson said one possibility is league-only schedules for the fall.

A month ago, I was completely confident sports would return to normal in the fall, but now I’m not so sure. I haven’t completely given up hope, but it’s disheartening to continue seeing 1,000 to 1,200 new cases a day in the state. This virus has proven to be stubbornly resilient and, frankly, I believe a lot of people haven’t taken measures to prevent its spread seriously enough until very recently.

I know as recently as three weeks ago, I counted more than 20 people in less than half an hour in a local grocery store not wearing masks. I’ve been wearing a mask in stores since April and I have a legitimate excuse not to wear one (a crushed septum in my sinuses). If I can wear a mask with one functioning nostril for 20 to 30 minutes in a store, so can you.

Thankfully, what I have seen the past couple of weeks with people masking up in the local stores is vastly improved. I hope it’s not too little, too late.

We all want things to get back to normal. I think it’s getting to a point where people need things to get back to normal. The fastest way we can do that is by accepting that, for the foreseeable future, times have changed. And we have to change. And that means not holding parties or get-togethers. Wearing a mask indoors and maintaining social distancing. There’s a great meme of the psycho killer from “Silence of the Lambs” saying, “Wear the mask or you get the Phase 1 again.”

Honestly, nothing sums it up better than that for me.

We’ll see what Wednesday brings. Hope for the best. Brace for the worst.

________

Sports Editor Pierre LaBossiere can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected].

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