Tuesday, 26 May 2020
Written by Karissa Niehoff
Reopening is the key word in sports at all levels right now. Every day, there are new projections for when the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball will resume — and if the National Football League will start on time this fall.
Along with leaders of youth-level sports and the NCAA, the NFHS and its member state associations are exploring all options for conducting sports this fall. And while we all want answers, the truth is that there are more questions than answers at this point.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading national medical authority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, recently told ESPN that “the virus will make the decision for us” on whether sports will return this fall. His comments underscore the need for leaders of all levels of sport in the United States to exercise great caution as we re-engage in activities.
Without a doubt, education will play a larger role in the decision-making process for high school programs than for nonscholastic programs. Despite the significant loss of revenue that could occur at some levels if programs remain closed, health and safety concerns must take priority when it comes to reopening the sport or activity.
At the high school level, sports and other activity programs will most likely not return until schools reopen. High school sports and performing arts are education-based programs and complete the learning process on a day-to-day basis. As such, academics during the school day and sports and other activities after school are inseparable.
Could any of those sports and activities return without fans? That option is certainly not one schools favor, but it is a very real possibility. While a few state associations opted for that arrangement to complete state basketball tournaments, that is not a desired ongoing plan for school sports. Besides, this troubling question would have to be addressed: If it is unsafe for fans in the stands, is it safe for the students to participate?
Students, parents and other fans in the stands cheering for and supporting student-athletes, and applauding from the theatre audience, are among the most wonderful aspects of education-based activities. Before accepting that arrangement, efforts will continue to make attending events a safe experience for everyone.
While we remain uncertain as to the timetable for the return of high school sports and other activities, we believe that when these programs return — and they will return — that everyone will bring renewed zeal to provide the 12 million participants in these programs the best experience possible.
One of the challenges to solving the crystal ball of high school sports and activities this fall is the uncertainty of the spread of the virus as states begin to reopen this month. The NFHS will continue to work with its Sports Medicine Advisory Committee on an ongoing basis to provide the most updated information.
With the non-negotiable tenet of safety for student activity participants, expect every avenue to be pursued so that students can be involved in football, soccer, volleyball, field hockey, speech, debate, music and many other school activities this fall.
Tuesday, 19 May 2020
Written by Earl Vaughan Jr.
The COVID-19 pandemic has ground activity on high school athletic fields to a halt, but there’s still plenty going on off the field. Here are a few items of interest:
- The Gray’s Creek High School boys cross country team was the only Cumberland County squad to be recognized by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s 2019-20 Scholar Athlete Program.
The program annually recognizes students and teams for their academic success. To qualify, the combined unweighted grade point average of the team must be 3.1 or higher during the semester when the team is competing.
Gray’s Creek earned a 3.75 GPA, placing third in the state behind first-place North Davidson at 3.84 and second-place Crest at 3.8.
The win earned the school a $100 prize.
- Fayetteville Technical Community College is using the lights at J.P. Riddle Stadium to join in a national program to honor this year’s graduating high school seniors who are missing out on their final year of sports or performing arts because of the pandemic.
The idea apparently started in Texas, spread to Colorado and then took off nationally, as high schools turned on the lights on their athletic fields at 8:20 p.m., 20:20 in military time, and left them on for 20 minutes and 20 seconds to honor the class of 2020.
Steve Driggers of FTCC said the lights were turned on the last two Fridays this month at Riddle Stadium and will be lit a final time on Friday,
- Congratulations to Faith Francis of the Westover High School girls’ basketball team. Francis has been selected to the East roster for this summer’s North Carolina Coaches Association East-West All-Star basketball game in Greensboro.
If restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic will allow, the game will be played Monday, July 20, at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Francis led Westover to a 21-7 record and a second-place finish in the Patriot Athletic Conference behind state 3-A co-champion E.E. Smith.
A 6-foot-1 wing player, Francis averaged 15.4 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. She made 23 three-point field goals. She was named the Patriot Athletic Conference girls Player of the Year.
- Two Cumberland County schools recently hired head coaches. Kelly Melvin is the new volleyball coach at Cape Fear High School while Thurston Robinson will coach the girls basketball team at Terry Sanford.
According to a press release posted on social media, Melvin is a graduate of Douglas Byrd High School with degrees in physical education from Methodist University and North Carolina A&T.
She has been a teacher and athletic director at Albritton Middle School for 28 years.
She worked with the Cape Fear volleyball program since 2016, serving as head junior varsity coach and assistant varsity coach.
Robinson’s hiring was also announced on social media. He has coached for more than 20 years in the Fayetteville area, coaching both boys’ and girls basketball.
His teams have won championships at both the state and national level.
He has also had teams appear in major showcase tournaments around the country.
- Proponents of adding a shot clock to high school basketball suffered another defeat recently when the National Federation of State High School Associations announced the high school basketball rule changes for the 2020-21 season.
A proposal for a national rule requiring a shot clock, along with a rule allowing individual states to adopt one if they desired, were not approved.
In a press release from the National Federation, Theresia Wynns, NFHS director of sports, said members of the Basketball Rules Committee discussed the pros and cons of adding the shot clock and will continue to study the issue.
- One rule that was updated involved what happens if no coach is available to be on the bench because the head coach has been removed for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The new rule says if a coach is removed from the bench and no authorized school personnel are available to take over the team, the game will be declared a forfeit.
- Another rule was clarified to state that officials don’t have to give a coach a warning before assessing a technical foul. The existing rule gave the impression that a warning was needed before calling a technical.
- A new rule was added for clock operators, who are now required to sound a warning signal to start a 15-second period to replace an injured or disqualified player. A second warning is given at the end of 15 seconds to alert teams it’s time to prepare for play.
- A complete list of the rule changes for next season can be found at www.nfhs.org. Go to Activities and Sports at the top of the home page then click on Basketball.