When contact sports such as football, basketball, soccer and wrestling are allowed to begin summer workouts in Nebraska starting Wednesday, the Nebraska School Activities Association will return to its normal summer protocol heading into a fall high school sports season that’s moving forward as planned.
At least for now.
With COVID-19 cases spiking in a number of states, NSAA executive director Jay Bellar knows that all could change at a moment’s notice if those trends filter into Nebraska. The pandemic already wiped out the NSAA spring sports season, and it could alter the way the fall looks, as well.
“It doesn’t feel normal at all,” Bellar said after the June NSAA Board of Directors meeting in Lincoln on Monday.
“When I listen to the (University of Nebraska Medical Center) people, (they say) within two or three weeks we’re going to know a lot more. I think that’s true.”
Lincoln Public Schools director of athletics Kathi Wieskamp said the six LPS high schools can begin summer activities in football and basketball on July 6. LPS opened its weight rooms on June 15, two weeks after the state lifted restrictions.
“We’ll have camps, clinics and open gyms starting next Monday,” Wieskamp said.
What the fall looks like, however, is anyone’s guess. Some of it depends if students are back in the classroom. If they’re in school part-time and working remotely part-time as some districts have already laid out for the fall, that’s something the NSAA can probably work with, Bellar said.
But “if we can’t be in session, there’s probably not going to be a season at that point in time,” Bellar said. “We’re counting on that schools are going to be back in session, and until they tell us different, we’re going to go (ahead as planned).”
There’s a possibility that some outdoor sports that tend to be better for social distancing — such as golf, tennis and cross country — might be able to compete, while a contact sport like football could be sidelined if an outbreak flares up during the season.
Bellar hopes fans will be able to attend fall sports events “as long as they’re paying attention to the social distancing.” Whether they’re wearing masks will be left for individual schools and the area health departments to decide.
Bellar admits everything is fluid right now, and the NSAA is remaining flexible to adapt to any circumstance that may arise.
“But you know school people, they want to plan and they want to get these things taken care of, and we can’t give them that (certainty) at this point in time,” Bellar said.