COVID-19 Rise Stalls Start of Winter Sports Season

Photography+by+Ryan+Tullio

Photography by Ryan Tullio

By Lauren Faltas, Sports Editor

The ending of fall sports signals the beginning of winter sports, but not this year! As we enter the second wave of COVID-19, cases are increasing and fogging our sense of normalcy. 

Outdoor fall sports have been wrapped up successfully. Players and coaches followed the strict guidelines which allowed for a safe and healthy environment. The varsity football team ended with a record of 5-2 and playing was normal, but playoffs were not possible under the current circumstances. Certain aspects of the football season were altered, such as weightlifting;  the boys practiced outside in the parking lots instead of their normal weightlifting room. Despite the changes, it allowed them to play a season similiar to previous years.

It is now time for winter sports to begin… but not so quickly. The start date of winter sports was originally December 3rd, but the NJSIAA has proposed a new and revised schedule for these sports to begin. The sports have been placed in three different phases (2, 2A, 3), with each phase beginning at a suitable date, in response to the pandemic. Ice hockey is the only winter sports that has been able to keep the original date in order to avoid financial repercussions. The rest have been altered.

Phase 2 is expected to begin January 11th, with competitions starting on January 26th. The sports that will be played in phase 2 are: boy’s basketball, girl’s basketball, bowling and fencing.

Phase 2A is expected to begin February 1st, with competitions starting on February 16th. The sports that will be played in phase 2A are: swimming and winter track & field.

Lastly, Phase 3 is expected to begin March 1st, with competitions starting on March 16th. The sports that will be played in phase 3, are all of the indoor fall sports that were canceled; girl’s volleyball and gymnastics along with wrestling which is the only winter sport that was postponed to phase 3.

The NJSIAA states that wrestling is a “high-risk indoor sport”, hence the pushback of the season. The delay of the season is for athletes’ safety, but many wish they had the opportunity to play “normally”.

“I think that the pushback of the season will affect practices and matches because of how short the season is. It will be much harder to get practices in and do as good as we would in a normal season,” states Sophomore John Sees. He also adds that”It’s a little awkward having a winter sport in the spring, but we’ll be able to manage that”.

Safety protocols for winter sports will be the same as fall sports: a shorter season, limited competition, minimal number of spectators, and 25% capacity. Adapting to these new changes may be a bit difficult, but they are all for the best, allowing for athletes to continue playing their favorite sports. 

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