Tim Crone: Protocols need to be followed to have a safe winter prep season

The Examiner
Tim Crone

I was able to cover the Blue Springs-Liberty playoff game last week. It was a great football game on a beautiful night. The game ended in overtime. The Blue Jays came from behind to kick a field goal in overtime to advance in the playoffs with a 31-28 victory.

In the press box was Liberty activities director Jason Cahill, a longtime friend, the radio crew at KCWJ (1030 AM) and legendary Examiner sports writer Bill Althaus. We all discussed how hard this season has been everyone involved with high school sports. The pandemic has played such a negative part in the lives of student-athletes.

Particularly good teams like Rockhurst and Lee’s Summit North had to cancel their seasons before they could even play in the first round of the playoffs. This was very tough for Rockhurst coach Kelly Donohoe and Lee’s Summit North coach Jamar Mozee. Both coaches had to tell their teams that all the hard work over the years was now finished.

Many have given me their two cents about how this COVID-19 situation should have been handled and obviously there are numerous political opinions. COVID-19, though, is not “fake news,” and everyone involved at the high school level has one basic responsibility – and that is to protect the students on and off the field.

From the beginning it was obvious that high schools would not have the resources to test and contact trace the same as professional and college teams. I work game days at Arrowhead Stadium and it is a two-day process to be able to get into the stadium. Everyone is required to take a test on Friday and is also required to complete daily surveys leading up to Sunday. Temperature checks and screenings go on constantly.

The protocol in the press box is beyond cautious. The NFL has monitors coming around all during the game to take pictures to assure that everyone is in their assigned seats, masks are on and social distancing is in place. It takes a lot of time, effort, money and people.

High schools obviously do not have the resources to pull that off. So when a high school administrator or coach has to decide whether or not it is safe to play games, they are doing the best they can with limited information.

Given the extreme nature of the pandemic, fans, officials, coaches, administrators and, most importantly, the student-athletes all did a fantastic job this football season.

The winter sports season is now upon us. It will be even more difficult to fight this virus with indoor sports. Bill Althaus will cover this topic (see related story on page A1). The challenges will be different than those faced in the fall. When a school has mandated protocols, everyone must comply in order for the athletes to complete their seasons.

I know the leaders will make good decisions with consideration of the safety of all involved. Hopefully with the election behind us we can come together. The virus did not go away with the Nov. 3 election. It is with us and we can have a winter season only if everyone understands that they are part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Good luck to all those people involved in high school sports. I hope we will have the opportunity to broadcast games in the state tournaments in January and February. Let’s not cheat the kids!

• The quote of the week comes from George Allen, the late Pro Football Hall of Fame coach and sports broadcaster: “If I were in business, actually football is a business, I would use the same principles because they are sound. We know what we want to do, when we want to do it and how we want to do it.” 

– 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.