Once all the counties were moved to phase 3 by the State Department of Health and the Governor’s office we all breathed a sigh of relief as sports were all allowed to get back to playing games. There was so much relief and joy when the first game a girls soccer match in Tenino where the Beavers hosted their rival Rochester and then we were off and running. The rules continued to relax, the Health department agreed players didn’t need to wear masks while competing and more fans could come watch especially with the outdoor games. The light at the end of the tunnel was getting brighter and we all thought and felt we are going to get in all of these sports and seasons.
Two weeks ago a signal was sent as the numbers of the virus are again growing and 3 counties were slapped into reality getting rolled back to phase 2 and they were Pierce, Cowlitz and Whitman counties. There wasn’t much of an outcry outside of those 3 counties but now it appears the wake-up call is about to get a lot bigger. On this day we have been told that Snohomish, King, Thurston, Lewis and Clark counties are all likely or are very close to falling back to phase 2. It doesn’t look as if Pierce, Cowlitz or Whitman counties will move back to phase 3 and we’re hear Spokane and Yakima counties are also in danger of getting rolled back.
The numbers are finalized on May 3rd and which ever counties end up back at phase 2 it will be a devastating hit to the basketball and wrestling seasons. Sports are allowed in phase 2, including high risk sports such as football to compete. But high risk sports must be played outside in phase 2, indoor high risk sports such as basketball and wrestling are not allowed to compete in games or matches indoors.
So the answer is one of two, either figure out a way to play outside or cancel your games. It is hard to see how you can get basketball outside but there is some hope to wrestle outside. Some wrestling clubs already do special outdoor wrestling events at football stadiums where the mats are laid out on the turf fields but certainly weather would come into play for outdoor wrestling to work.
Teams are allowed to practice in phase 2 but with half of the season wiped out is the interest still there for schools and athletes to continue to practice with no guarantee their county would be lifted out of phase 2 to allow games to be played. After May 3rd the next review is 3 weeks later on May 24th which means if they are not advanced back to phase 3 the entire season would be shut down.
Another hope is the Governor himself has reduced or changed the metrics in the past to accommodate allowing games to be played, would he do it again? Or in other words we would be reduced to hoping and wishing.
Since February there has been at least a little bit of the normal feeling back for kids and athletes trying to work through these challenging times. No doubt we all have relaxed on following the rules. In an editorial note we’d like to remind everyone who are mad or upset about the rules imposed by the Governor and Health department that the Athletic Directors, Coaches, Schools or the WIAA have no say regarding those rules. Nor will the school district legal teams allow the schools or teams to flaunt or skip those rules. So getting upset at those simply trying to create an opportunity for kids to play are not deserving of your personal anger or complaints about the rules.
We constantly tell kids it is time to buck up, finish strong no matter the conditions. When your team has been eliminated from post season and you still have a game or two to play we tell our kids to focus and finish like a champion. We do not know if it is too late to turn the tide in all of these counties or if the ship has sailed. We do hope that everyone regardless of politics, beliefs and thoughts will again put the first goal we all have back on top where it belongs and that is we ALL need to do whatever it takes to get kids on the fields, courts and mats.
The Senior class of 2021 has taken the brunt of this pandemic squarely on the chin. They had their Spring wiped out last year, they didn’t get anything close to normal until games were again allowed to be played and then it was still so different than any other graduating Senior class in State history. At least last year’s senior’s had a normal Fall and Winter with Homecoming, full sports seasons and state play-offs, Senior nights and so on. The 2021 Seniors haven’t gotten any of that and no doubt their Proms and all of their other graduating traditions are likely to be cancelled or at least significantly altered.
It is time for us to finish strong and we hope everyone will pull together for a singular goal and that is to allow kids to play.