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Tim Crone: Flexibility will be key to fall high school sports season

Staff Writer
The Examiner
Tim Crone

High school sports have arrived in the state of Missouri. It is normally a time that holds great excitement for athletes in all sports.

Most of the students who play sports in high school have worked most of their lives to play for their high school. For 98% of the athletes who play high school sports it will be the last four years they will compete.

This year obviously has a totally new spin on high school athletics. I have a lot of empathy for local school boards, district administrators, coaches and parents as decisions are made about how to proceed and regulate the season. Fall sports practice in Missouri is scheduled to start Monday.

The Missouri State High School Activities Association made public their guidelines and recommendations for conducting a sports season during the COVID-19 pandemic. The information has been on the association’s website since July 15. I would encourage everyone interested in high school sports to review those recommendations.

The Kansas State High School Activities Association executive board voted 5-4 to go ahead and play all fall sports as planned. Young people should not be denied the opportunity to participate in an activity they have worked for their whole life, but most agree that current circumstances should dictate priority.

There seems to be a million opinions about how to proceed. Educators are among the most dedicated people in the country. The last thing they would want to do is hinder a student-athlete’s opportunity. The biggest dilemma is safety, and leaders are faced with an unprecedented situation.

Coaches and athletic directors on both sides of the state line are as insecure about the beginning of the season as a freshman athlete. They are watching college and professional sports attempt to get a handle on the situation.

High school sports are not capable of playing their season in a bubble. High schools do not have the financial ability to consistently test their athletes. Two separate athletic directors told me that if just one school would commit to no season, the rest would most likely follow that lead.

Who knows what the right call is? Every single administrator is most likely losing sleep. The one factor that should not enter the process is politics.

Hopefully, every high school student-athlete will have an opportunity to fulfill their dreams this season. Instead of being a Monday morning quarterback, involved parties need to listen to the state athletic associations and follow guidelines established by school boards and administrations.

The fall sports season will be like nothing ever seen in the past century and therefore should be approached open-minded and flexible. The term teamwork has never been more appropriate. Education is all about life lessons. The 2020-21 high school sports season will truly test life lessons. Prayers to all of the young people and leaders who will be a part of how it all plays out.

• The quote of the week comes from late sports broadcaster Jack Whitaker: “The sports world is a classic example of the game of life. Much can be accomplished when nobody becomes too concerned with who will get the credit. Great plays are made possible by unselfish and disciplined individuals who are more concerned with end results than with personal ones.”

– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at t.crone@comcast.net.