Uncertainty Surrounding Winter Sports

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Taylor Ducey, Staff Writer

Coronavirus has canceled or postponed numerous activities that students look forward to during the scholastic year. The most prominent being athletics. There was great uncertainty heading into the 2020-2021 school year not only with how sports would proceed, but how everyday school would as well. New Jersey Governor, Phil Murphy, and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, NJSIAA, released its return-to-play plan for fall athletics. It states that “low risk” outdoor sports can proceed following a specific date. However, it also declared that volleyball and gymnastics would be rescheduled to later in the school year. This posed an even bigger question regarding winter sports because they all occur indoors, and most, like wrestling, basketball and hockey, are contact sports. 

Of course everything depends on the number of coronavirus cases in the United States and in New Jersey. As of Monday, October 13th, Governor Murphy signed an executive order allowing practices and competitions for winter sports to begin December 3rd. However, this comes with many precautions so the spread of covid will not increase as more activities are being held. Winter sports including basketball, wrestling, ice hockey, swimming, bowling and indoor track, can begin practices on December 3rd and start games on December 21st. Their seasons have been cut short, beginning later and ending earlier. Winter sports will end their regular season on February 3rd and the state tournament will end on February 17th. 

Besides the season’s restrictions, there are numerous restraints surrounding travel and spectators that depend on the state and what specific schools allow. Teams will be limited to playing only two games a week, with an exception of two weeks where three games will be played. The state tournament will proceed until state sectional finals and will be divided based on counties. Attendance at practice and games is restricted to 25% capacity or 25 people. If the number of athletes, coaches and referees exceeds this number, then no spectators will be allowed. If this doesn’t apply, then spectators will be allowed until the room’s capacity is 25% full or if there are 150 people total. 

Although there is still much uncertainty surrounding winter sports, the already noted success of fall sports is creating hope and excitement for the future under this pandemic and its constraints. As time passes, more knowledge will be obtained about the coronavirus, which will undoubtedly bring forth new and improved regulations that can ensure the safety of athletes and coaches while they are playing their winter sport!