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TAYLOR MADE: A CONTINUED LOOK AT THE INTERSCHOLASTIC SCENARIO (2020-09-20)

I just realized that my previous Taylor Made noted that wrestling and competitive cheer could be moved from Season I to Season II. I forgot to note that those sports could also be moved to Season III.

A move out of Season I could be justified due to the high-risk nature of the two sports, but should wrestling be moved, Season III would be the best option in my opinion. The New York State Public High School Athletic Association is allowing athletes to compete in multiple sports due to the overlap in seasons, but placing football and wrestling in the same season would be detrimental to both activities.

The majority of football players do not cut weight during the season while most of those who also wrestle normally start to cut weight once the gridiron season is over.

With the new weight classes taking effect this year, some football-playing wrestlers will have to decide which weight to compete at. I think we need to take look at those athletes who may be competing at 160, 172, 189, 215 and 285. Those are some big gaps and wrestlers may have to get certified while still playing football. I doubt there will be a two-pound allowance at the end of December to fall back on.

One of the aspects of coronavirus safety are the protocols involved with sanitizing and cleaning surfaces. Most sports will require an extended amount of time to complete. And I don't even want to think of the additional financial expenditures involved with keeping surfaces and equipment clean and safe for the athletes.

According to the World Health Organization, "COVID-19 spreads between people through direct, indirect (through contaminated objects or surfaces), or close contact with infected people via mouth and nose secretions. And, contrary to what some people may believe, COVID-19 can be spread outside as well as inside. Of course, the risk is greater indoors, according to the experts, hence the reason New York state upgraded volleyball to a high-risk sport.

Following are a few of my thoughts on some of the sports offered to our local athletes.

• Baseball & Softball — There are periods in a game where social distancing can't be practiced — at the plate, with runners on base (especially at first), attempting to make a tag.

• Basketball — How volleyball is classified as high-risk and hoops are not is beyond me. Have the people who classified sports as low-, medium-, and high-risk never seen a high school basketball game? There is more physical contact in hoops, as well as a greater lack of social distancing.

• Bowling — I'm assuming they will devise a social distancing plan for the keglers, who otherwise will rotate 10 bowlers between two lanes, thus creating a lot of close interaction.

• Competitive Cheer — Unless you take away the lifts and some of the stunts, there will be continuous physical contact amongst teammates.

• Cross Country — As a former competitor in both cross country and track & field, I've been involved in plenty of what I call "shouldering" tactics when the starter's gun sounds. If you've ever been to a large meet like an invitational or a league or sectional championship, there are a lot of runners who are in close proximity with each other at the start line and often physical contact ensues. It also occurs at small meets, although the risk or lower.

• Field Hockey, Lacrosse, Soccer — There's plenty of "bumping" and "grinding" between these athletes. You will rarely see them back down from a physical challenge by an opponent.

• Golf — This is the sport Tioga County schools field teams in which social distancing can be most safely and easily followed.

• Swimming & Diving — The Centers for Disease Control said there's no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, however, it can be spread from a person's foot to a starting block or diving board. They will be spending a lot of time

• Track & Field — Indoor or outdoor, you will usually see some physical contact among athletes at the start of the distance races (1500/1600 & 3000/3200, 4x800 relay start). Other events usually don't involve physical contact, however, when athletes set up in the starting blocks, they are not social distancing.

• Tennis — Probably No. 2 to the links for social distancing safety, with the exception of doubles, although physical contact among partners is rare.

• Volleyball — The National Federation of High Schools, the governing body for high school athletics, classified volleyball as a moderate-risk sport. However, New York felt compelled to reclassify it as a high-risk sport. Again, why are the spikers at greater risk than the hoopsters?

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Let's talk about spectators. Fan presence will be greatly reduced at every athletic event. This is just not fair. Every school needs to create a plan for every sport in order to allow the maximum number of spectators to safely attend. If I'm a taxpayer and want to go watch teams from my school compete, I would be very upset if I was told I could not attend. I guarantee you, this is going to happen

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Again, here is the Condensed Seasons Plan released earlier this summer (includes date changes, which are still tentative).

Season I (Winter Sports)
Dates: Jan. 1-March 13, 10 Weeks
Sports: basketball (girls & boys), bowling (girls & boys), gymnastics, ice hockey (girls & boys), indoor track & field (girls & boys), skiing (girls & boys), swimming (boys), wrestling, competitive cheer
NOTE: Due to their high-risk nature, wrestling and competitive cheer could be moved to Season II or Season III.

Season II (Fall Sports)
Dates: March 1-May 8, 10 Weeks
Sports: football, cross country (girls & boys), field hockey, soccer (girls & boys), swimming (girls), volleyball (girls & boys), unified bowling

Season III (Spring Sports)
Dates: April 19-June 12, 10 Weeks
Sports: baseball, softball, golf (girls & boys), lacrosse (girls & boys), tennis (girls & boys), outdoor track & field (girls & boys), unified basketball

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