We live in a global pandemic where sports are essentially canceled, unless, of course, you have money.
The NBA can afford umpteen safety protocols, and extensive testing, to build a basketball bubble, meanwhile youth and high school sports all itch to play, too.
Asking youth sports to operate with the same level of effectiveness as the NBA is not stupid, but it’s in the conversation.
“We have extensive resources and connections to pull something like this off. It took a lot of time and effort from a massive group of people to make this a reality,” Dallas Mavericks forward Dwight Powell said Thursday during a zoom call with the media. He is with the Mavs in the NBA’s bubble in Orlando, Fla.
“I don’t think a bubble is realistic to demand this of amateur sports, or high school sports. It is important that some of the lessons we are learning here as far as how to keep things safe be reflected in those groups. Keep social distancing. Wearing masks whenever possible. Maintain good hygiene. Wash your hands every chance you get. Keep the groups you interact with as low as possible.”
The NBA, MLB, NHL, and maybe the NFL can all play on, but as far as the rest of our kids it’s coming down to our wallet.
Here is what is happening, and what the rest of us need to prepare for: If as a parent you can pay the money for club sports, the seasons have a chance to continue, depending on state regulations.
If you rely on public state funded sports to play the game, the best you can hope for is a delay.
“It’s July 16, whatever that means, but I think we are fooling ourselves that we think we are going to play fall sports on time. Now, a week and a half ago I didn’t think that,” North Crowley boys’ basketball coach and athletic director Tommy Brakel said.
“Ask me in 36 hours and I may change my mind. But look what’s happening around the state.”
El Paso recently announced that its schools will not re-open until Sept. 7, at the earliest. That includes sports.
Similar announcements were made in Travis County, which includes Austin, and Houston. Fort Bend ISD announced this week it will begin the semester with online classes, and no in person extra curricular activities.
Late Thursday, Dallas County Judge Clay Lewis Jenkins and Dr. Philip Huang declared that the schools cannot open until Sept. 7.
“It’s starting and what happens is the big dominoes start to fall and you don’t want to be the domino left standing, and have a coach die of COVID, or have a kid get it and he gives it to his grandma,” Brakel said.
On Thursday, Thomas Jones of the Austin American Statesman Tweeted, “Hearing that (Texas UIL) will make an announcement Monday concerning the start of the fall sports season. Sounds like UIL officials meeting w/state officials this week, including governor’s office.”
The delays follow similar announcements made on the collegiate level, where leagues such as the Big 10 and Pac 12 have canceled their respective non-conference schedules. The ACC will wait until the end of the month.
There are places where a kid can still play, which follows the great American model of cash. With the unintentional blessing of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, clubs and select sports have returned.
Club and select cheer, soccer, softball, baseball and basketball have all returned to practice, and tournaments. Volleyball clinics have re-opened.
Kevin Harvey of Fort Worth coaches boys and girls AAU basketball teams. He initially returned to practice with 1-on-1 instruction, but is now back to 5-on-5 basketball.
“We have lost teams who said they didn’t feel comfortable doing it,” he said. “But really it depends on the parents whether they are comfortable doing it or not.”
Brakel said he normally has about 90 kids participate in AAU basketball. This summer, it’s around 50.
“One of our players had (COVID-19). He was 17. He lost his smell for one day,” Harvey said. “Now, everyone who came in contact with him could not get tested because we didn’t have symptoms. He was fine the next day.”
For AAU players who do play, the parents must sign the standard waiver. There are temperature checks upon arrival. Everyone must wear a mask upon entering the building. Once on the court, the masks come off and it’s game on
After the game, everyone must leave and the cleaning process begins for the next round of players, coaches and games.
As of July 16, this is where youth sports in Texas sits.
If you have the money and are willing to risk it, your kid can find a game.
If you’re a kid or coach who relies on a state funded sports team, all you can do is hope.