Will Winter sports be cancelled?

During+last+year%27s+basketball+season%2C+Noah+Taylor%2C+15%2C+grabs+the+ball+as+it+bounces+off+the+board.+This+image+was+taken+during+the+2019+basketball+season.+Winter+sporting+events+may+look+different+this+year+according+to+Governor+Murphy+and+the+current+spread+of+COVID-19.+

Photo Credit: Photo by Christia Assa from The Declaration Newspaper used with permission.

During last year’s basketball season, Noah Taylor, 15, grabs the ball as it bounces off the board. This image was taken during the 2019 basketball season. Winter sporting events may look different this year according to Governor Murphy and the current spread of COVID-19.

By: Jackie Poznanski, Editor

New Jersey fall sports ultimately found a way for all students to compete and spectators to watch. However, with winter sports around the corner, parents and athletes are concerned that their season may be altered or worse, canceled.

Gov. Phil Murphy’s statement

On November 9th, 2020 Governor Murphy tweeted, “Starting this Thursday, ALL interstate games and tournaments for indoor youth sports – up to and including high school – are prohibited. It is simply not safe for teams to be crossing state lines at this time to participate in indoor competitions.”

Furthermore, the NJSIAA announced on Oct. 13th that high school winter sports teams can start practice on Dec. 3rd. The regular season has planned to run from Dec. 21-Feb 17, with teams playing no more than 15 games. The gathering limit is currently 25 percent capacity, though if the players, coaches, referees, and other necessary officials exceed the 25 percent; spectators and parents may not attend though the event can continue.

Gov. Phil Murphy’s Thanksgiving rule

On November 16, 2020, Governor Murphy announced to New Jersey that indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people maximum and outdoor gatherings are limited to 150 people maximum. Murphy said on WPIX 11 the restrictions will not affect indoor dining, which remains capped at 25 percent of a restaurant’s normal capacity.

“It’s not indoor dining. Indoor dining remains at 25% capacity. It means any gathering and that certainly does mean in your private setting. We’re pleading with people to have a small Thanksgiving with just the people you live with,” Murphy states.

Winter Sports? 

Considering this information, the probability of having a winter sports season is tricky. Though the new indoor restriction only affects the private settings, it may influence Murphy’s decision. What if the number of coaches and teams exceeds 25%? Will games be canceled? Besides the athletes, how will parents and fans come to watch? Will parents be forced to miss their child’s competition? Will the absence of fans affect the outcome of the game?

The overall aesthetic could possibly push players away from even trying out this year. Some athletes drive off of support and motivation from their fans and family. However, with these aspects’ absence, student-athletes may ponder if it’s even worth it. Similarly, sports may need to examine how many coaches and extra players they need this season so that they will not exceed the 25% limit.

Considering all the factors regarding COVID-19, the idea of having a winter sports season may seem challenging but, isn’t impossible. If teams are limited to a certain number of games and only travel to certain areas, the spread of COVID-19 may be more controlled. Furthermore, if winter sports have to sacrifice the presence of fans; schools should contemplate live streaming or recording the games in order for parents/ fans to watch.

It is clear that with winter sports around the corner, parents, and athletes are concerned that their season may be altered or worse . . . canceled. Therefore, winter sports athletes should stay informed and remain in contact with their coaches during the preseason.

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