Daniel Mayes: Good on the GHSA for making nuanced decisions on fall sports

Daniel Mayes

Something Dalton High School cross country coach Karen Galyon said in an interview this week really registered.

"With cross country in particular, you have to stay somewhat distant anyway, or you'll trip somebody up," Galyon joked when asked about the Georgia High School Association decision to go ahead with an on-schedule start for fall sports other than football, which was delayed two weeks.

After all, many sports are very different. Cross country, softball and volleyball don't require the same degree of contact or large gatherings of players that football does.

As the GHSA attempts to save fall sports amid the outbreak of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), why shouldn't each sport be treated individually?

The GHSA as a governing body is in unprecedented territory in trying to make decisions that can affect the health and happiness of thousands of people.

California's equivalent, the California Interscholastic Federation, announced Monday that the fall sports season would be pushed back into December or January. Who could blame them, really, with so much at stake, for opting for a "better safe than sorry" approach?

The GHSA shouldn't have been blamed if it had reached a similar decision.

However, the decision to keep the door open for fall sports, despite the outbreak, is an admirable one, too. It's evident that the organization is doing its homework in trying to make this happen as safely as possible.

Weekly meetings by the GHSA with its Sports Medicine Advisory Council have usually yielded tweaked rules and regulations as schools have held summer workouts.

A heavily-regulated start to workouts in June has lessened as coaches provide feedback on what works.

As much as conversations about fall sports need to be about medical safety, and very rightly so, it's OK to consider the desires of the kids, too.

It's still sad to think of all those 2020 high school seniors in spring sports, some who lost the rest of their seasons and athletic careers when schools and sports shut down in March. You could hear it in their voices in interviews. It stung.

The GHSA should be, and seems to be, taking that into consideration when making their decisions. To try to prevent that sting for the 2021 high school seniors.

You don't have to look far underneath posts on GHSA social media to see the cries of "Let us play."

If it can be done safely, then steps should be taken to avoid that sudden, end-of-career feeling for as many of our high school students as is possible.

That means weighing different sports and their different seasons.

It seems clear, in the GHSA's Monday decision, that the organization sought a solution that makes sense for each sport, rather than lumping them all together.

If football does have to be delayed further, or any other sports are affected, it's still a victory for our cross country kids to not get stuck on the outside looking in when they could have competed.

Daniel Mayes is the sports editor of the Daily Citizen-News. Write to him at danielmayes@dailycitizen.news.

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