Even though state schools are now closed through April 30, the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission still hasn’t called off its high school sports seasons.
The SSAC Board of Directors held a conference call Wednesday “to figure out where our thoughts are,’’ according to executive director Bernie Dolan. Earlier in the day, Gov. Jim Justice extended the state schools closure from April 20 to April 30 to line up with national social distancing guidelines due to the coronavirus.
On March 12, West Virginia paused its basketball seasons in the middle of the girls state tournament and the latter stages of the boys regionals, while spring sports had yet to start.
“Right now, it obviously looks more gloomy than last week,’’ Dolan said of possibly resuming, “but I think we’re going to wait out the models and see if the models improve. The more information you get, the more accurate your model becomes.
“If the governor thinks we can hopefully get back in school, we can probably try to match that level of hope. There’s no benefit to making the call today, so we can ride it out a little and see where this takes us.’’
Dolan said the SSAC is still planning on both an abbreviated spring sports schedule and the resumption of basketball tournaments. Some neighboring states, such as Ohio, recently canceled all their winter sports championships but have only postponed spring sports.
“There was plenty of discussion today whether or not to continue both of them,’’ Dolan said. “I’m of the mind that if we’re going to do one, I’d like to do them all. They don’t really interfere with each other. You can get basketball practice in and you can get basketball done while they’re getting their minimal regular season in [for spring sports].
“If we get back to school, we’ll be on a limited time schedule and certainly that will make it very challenging. There are probably a lot of other things to get settled before athletics. All those things come into play and, who knows, it might just be teams only if we can finally go. You just don’t know what amount of groups will be allowed to congregate.’’
Dolan said the thought of playing the remaining girls and boys state tournament games at the Charleston Coliseum hasn’t been squashed, either.
“We’ve talked about it,’’ he said, “and the Civic Center is still available for the dates we looked at in mid-May. I don’t think a lot of places are booked up at this point. Nobody’s stepping out and scheduling a lot.’’
Dolan realizes that the talk of possibly playing games while a pandemic is ongoing may strike some as frivolous, but he knows returning to a sense of normalcy is also significant.
“When you look at it,’’ he said, “people are really struggling on the outside and it makes you feel like your problems aren’t as big as you might want to make it. But I also know that athletics has an important role for the communities.
“It’s the one thing that — no matter what’s happened — if there are football or basketball games, people can put everything aside and come to the game. We don’t want to lose sight of that. It’s important for the communities, but you also don’t want to lose sight of the big scheme of things — healthy lives are more important. It has been a challenge.’’