While wide awake, area high school level athletic directors are nearing a period of uneasy sleep.
The scheduling nightmare is rapidly approaching.
Beginning this week, the practice portion of the prep’s preseason involving the girls and boys soccer and lacrosse programs, each were able to begin. It’s the latest in the line of the allowable sports to get underway according to the year’s revised athletic calendar released by the governing N.C. High School Athletic Association back in the middle of August.
On paper, it’s another refreshing step in the right direction as far as keeping the sports stage on somewhat of a regular routine. In actuality, however, it opens up another can of worms completely primarily on the part of the ADs.
Scheduling instantly becomes a primary concern. During the course of the practice sessions, no conflict concerning the use of available facilities is anticipated. Teams from each of the sports and both genders can arrange their routines during different times to allow for their workouts. In most cases, school campuses also have in place some alternate sites that can also be used for the preparations.
However, once the season starts, it’s a completely different matter. In nearly all cases involving area schools, a single stadium site is used for the activities. Already, administrators are juggling the schedules to assure that each of the teams have access to the sites. In cases where programs also are fieldling varsity as well as junior varsity teams, it’s a matter of making room for as many as four teams to engage in their schedules all at the same time and doing so in home affairs taking place at the same location.
Fortunately, the schedule makers have exactly two weeks from the start of preseason practice to the tabled beginning of the season to arrange all respective playing agendas accordingly. Initial play dates for each of the programs arrives on the same Jan. 25 date. From that point through the conclusion of the regular season tabled for early March, the teams are all allowed a maximum of 14 contests apiece. It’s a true testament to the ability of the ones making out the schedules to allow the teams equal opportunity to appear in home contests.
It gets even trickier near the season’s midway mark.
Come late February, when both the soccer and lacrosse campaigns will be engaging in the stretch run portion of their seasons, football is set to get underway. That’s throwing yet another major sport into the mix that also makes use of same site for a limited amount of time. For about a two-week stretch, as many as 10 different teams – four apiece in the form of varsity and jayvee entries representing soccer and lacrosse and the remaining two hailing from football – will all have to arrange their regular-season games and/or practice sessions to be held at the same single location.
Also making matters interesting is the fact that some of the organizations responsible for proving officials in the various games have expressed some concern over the lack of personnel. The presence of COVID-19 has caused some high school officials to decide not to take the chance to catch the virus. As a result, many of the associations have fewer officials at their disposal. Some of the outlets are asking that schools shy away from traditional play dates to help compensate for the discrepancy. However, school’s hands are tied due to the demand for playing facilities.