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Sports to return to new normal

Sports to return to new normal

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They’re back!

But will we recognize them?

Yes and then again no.

After careful consideration, months of anticipation and even some most recent additional examination, the area’s high school-level sports stage is once again – even on a somewhat limited basis – being brought back in the spotlight.

Effective as of early this week, and with some late-breaking baggage to boot, programs being overseen by the all-seeing N.C. High School Athletic Association are back in scheduled action. The NCHSAA placed all such affairs on a holding pattern as far back as the middle of March, doing so to prevent one season – the winter one – as well as the remainder of the at-the-time underway next one – the spring – from being completed.

The culprit in the decision was the same. The presence and continued concern over the spread of COVID-19 caused the sports world at the local and state prep-playing level to stop spinning. Though taking a few more revolutions since courtesy of some allowable limited strictly volunteer-only gatherings of athletes in various sports, officially matters could resume on a mandatory basis by participants as early as Monday.

This week, a host of area programs are among those eager, anxious and – very much so – cautious to get their actions underway

For now, only the sports of volleyball and girls and boys cross country can compete. The players have been in rehearsals since earlier this month. Monday marked the first formal play date any could make an official appearance. By the close of this week, a number of local programs will be making first-week appearances.

Much will be changed, though, when they do so.

Just as the season arrived, the NCHSAA made a few additional requirements. While maintaining its stance on the allowing of the number of attendees to be present at such indoor athletic affairs, the demand was made to insist that all athletes, coaches, support staff and officials don facial coverings during as well as throughout the course of the competitions. This was in sharp contrast to a previous allowance that had enabled the participants to be free of coverings during the course of play.

The result will provide a completely different look during the course of the contests. Making sure to put health-related issues at the very tip top of the concentration concern list, the safety of the players and those also within watching range remains a major priority. Even media personnel providing coverage of the actions much adhere to the restrictions. It’s all understandable.

While all eyes will be watching intently the resumption of the high school sports season, even if will be totally different from the way it has been seen in the past. Without a doubt, the volleyball action will be carefully construed. It’s the one taking place indoors in enclosed quarters and featuring some up-close-and-personal play between the respective participants. It’s also one that will involve sharing the same pivotal piece of equipment.

It will not be alarming if the number of COVID cases do undergo a spike once the season gets underway. Already, the high volume of such reports continues to rise. It’s all part of the new normal that will greet the sports as they return to the respective fields of play.

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