TAYLOR COUNTY—As teams around the state continue working out in preparation for the unknown, the Grafton Bearcats and Taylor County Knights entered Phase III of the WVSSAC’s three-phase plan on Monday, conditioning at various locations around the county.
WVSSAC Director Bernie Dolan said he was pleased with the outcomes he’s seen from Phase I and Phase II and shared his thoughts about the landscape of fall sports moving forward.
Regarding the first two phases, Dolan said, “I think everybody liked the first two phases and it gave them an opportunity to get back with their kids and begin to reconnect. And, while they’re doing that, they’re starting to get in shape. It’s one thing to work by yourself to get in shape, it’s another thing to be pushed by your coach. So, it’s certainly a different level.”
When asked if the extra time spent together in the summer could become a regular occurrence from this point moving forward, Dolan noted that schools’ “flex days” will still serve that purpose in the future, although moving the fall sports calendar entirely could happen as a last resort.
“If something would happen and we would have to move sports to a different season, we probably would have to limit the number of games,” explained Dolan. “If your out-of-state opponents aren’t doing things, you’re probably going to be contained to your in-state.”
Also, if a team would not be able to play because of a player or coach testing positive for COVID-19, the game or match would be counted as a “no contest” and not as a forfeit. Testing positive would lead to a mandatory 14-day quarantine for the infected individual(s).
On Monday, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice ordered that protective face masks be worn inside, although athletic teams have alternatives depending on their current situations.
“We’ve encouraged our coaches and the kids to wear the face mask when appropriate,” noted Dolan. “If they’re not doing anything that has vigorous activity, then they should have the face mask on. If you can’t keep that social distancing, you also should have the mask on.”
Asked about how much (or exactly when) coaches and players will have to wear face coverings during games, how schools will approach having fans in the stands, and the current status of a fall sports season, Dolan says those types of decisions will come at a later date.
He also stated that local and state health departments will have the biggest influence when tackling the subject of spectator attendance for fall and winter sporting events.
Dolan added that the fate of fall sports is the responsibility of everyone and not just the players and coaches.
“I really honestly believe that it’s going to be in the hands of the public as to whether or not we have high school and college sports,” Dolan concluded. “If we want high school sports, I think everybody has to take personal responsibility and help everybody involved.”