That elephant in the room?
The one that we saw, and pushed to the back of our mind, in August, is back.
And he brought the rest of his family with him.
That room is the winter high school sports season and what could become of it.
When Gov. Wolf delivered more restrictions on Thursday, including the suspension of interscholastic sports until at least Jan. 4, where you surprised?
Raise your hand if you were.
My hand didn’t go up, either.
I don’t blame Wolf. He’s trying to lasso a pandemic.
A pandemic, we hoped, back in August, that we wouldn’t be dealing with now.
Back then, while the folks in charge were trying to figure out how to run a fall sports season, thoughts about a winter one cropped up. You know, in the back of our mind.
“Yeah, I’ve thought about it,” one Suburban One League athletic director said in the summer.
“And it will probably be a mess, maybe a bigger mess than the one we have now. Most of the sports now are outside and we’re not sure how to handle it.
“All of the sports in the winter are inside. With the COVID, if it’s still bad as we get ready for the winter seasons, I don’t know what’s going to happen. Hopefully not what happened at the end of the last winter season.”
The end of the last winter season, which, even though it feels like a lifetime, was only nine months ago, brought the cancellation of the last couple of rounds of the PIAA basketball tournaments for boys and girls in all classifications and plenty of confusion as the state swimming and diving championships were trying to wrap up.
(Wrestling, which finished a week earlier than the other sports in March, was able to hold its state tournament without a hitch).
The winter season led to a cancelled spring season followed by a fall season that was filled with more confusion as some leagues didn’t compete while some couldn’t finish their seasons.
And there were forfeits.
And entire districts (District 11) that didn’t compete in the PIAA state football playoffs.
And here we go again.
The fear now, and we’re talking winter high school sports, not restaurants and bars being able to re-open and other restrictions being lifted, is what’s going to change?
The PIAA, in a statement released Friday, said it hopes its member schools will be able to begin play in January.
More:Hatboro-Horsham, Bristol shut down wrestling for 2020-21 season amid COVID safety concerns
More:Wrestling during a pandemic: A huge challenge for high school teams
Come Jan. 4, though, will things be any different?
Will basketball be able to be played?
We see college basketball games being postponed left and right, teams putting their seasons on hold, more and more each day. That’s not a good sign because cancelling those games costs the schools money (which is why any college games are being played, but that’s a story for another day).
And how do you hold a swim meet?
Do you send swimmers in to compete in their event and then yank them out (of the warm pool area) and stash them in the locker room until they have to race again?
That wouldn’t work.
Now, while not ideal, you could hold virtual swim meets. Those wouldn’t get the competitive juices flowing like they do when you’re next to your opponent, but in COVID times, you do what you have to do.
And how do you have wrestling?
“Wrestlers sweat on each other, breathe on each other, bleed on each other,” one Suburban One League head coach said.
“Those aren’t good things when it comes to COVID. I try to put on a good face to my wrestlers, but it’s going to be really, really tough to have a season.”
So, like everything surrounding the pandemic, we wait and hope. (And there isn’t enough time to wait for the new vaccine to kick in. That’s going to take months and months).
Maybe, fingers and toes crossed, things somehow get better in three weeks and winter sport athletes can start practicing and prepping to play.
And, maybe, new guidelines are put in place with shortened seasons (like was done in the fall) and there can be some semblance of a winter campaign. Somehow.
And, maybe …
Anything, and this was the mantra in the fall, would be better than nothing.
We’re all tired of losing to the pandemic, let’s hope we don’t lose again.
More:Winter sports in COVID-19 delay at the start of Suburban One League season
That elephant in the room?