High-school sports take baby steps toward normalcy

The Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association is within a week of tentatively releasing a spring sports schedule, HHSAA Executive Director Christoper Chun announced on KHON2 in a recent interview.

He also declared the HHSAA will prioritize the spring sports and make sure the spring sports don’t miss a second consecutive season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Still, this makes me wonder what the climate of HHSAA-sanctioned sports will look like when they do return, presumably at the start of the 2021-22 school year.

Assuming that we have a season in spring 2021, still a couple of months away, there is a lot that will dictate this, including the COVID-19 numbers, both nationally and, most importantly, islandwide. Election results will also dictate how things play out.

The operative word in this column is “assuming,” because, remember, a lot can happen in the next two to three months that dictates when and if there will be a season.

Let’s be presumptuous and assume the show will go on.

Here is the million-dollar question: What will the season look like?

Will Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation volleyball and football games be played in empty venues?

How will the HHSAA deal with the varying degrees of the ventilation systems at different schools?

Every school’s ventilation system varies in efficiency, and how can that not play a factor in the spread of COVID-19?

Then there is the ongoing nightmare with recruiting by college scouts and coaches at all levels of college play who are making adaptations to adjust to living with the COVID-19 virus, like everyone else. How many tweeners will lose out on opportunities for collegiate scholarships?

In athletics, like in everything else in life, the elite-level athletes won’t suffer like the rest of the college-bound players or players who might be on the bubble of earning a coveted athletic scholarship.

It’s hard to quantify how many scholarships will be lost or modified, or even players forced to try to earn scholarships in college while attempting to be regular students, and the new transfer portal being overloaded with players looking for greener pastures.

Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly changed the dynamics of everything, and the residual effect from this worldwide pandemic is far from over.

Now here is the other question: How can we even think about having people in the stands at these games?

It just doesn’t seem practical or safe, especially when I think about how crammed in everyone is at the KIF football stadiums. As contagious as this virus is, social distancing is just a myth, and most likely doesn’t work anyway in a practical sense, especially when you are talking about a high-school football game.

The same can be said for a volleyball gymnasium. Again, it all depends on the ventilation system, which will vary from venue to venue.

Then there are the players who may have missed out on their junior and senior years, the most critical times to be evaluated as a player.

This is something that many of them have gracefully accepted as reality, and many of them are coming up with alternative ways to deal with this or stay in shape while everything is in limbo.

It appears that the HHSAA, like every other organization on the planet, has come to the consensus that we are going to try to learn to live with this virus.

Hopefully, normalcy comes sooner rather than later, but at what cost?


Jason Blasco, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or jblasco@thegardenisland.com.


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