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What I Think, What I Know, What I Wonder — January 2021

I know there are a lot of things that I don’t know. I’m always up to hear the other side of any argument. I think that these columns will be a hit going forward, especially when sports start, but be easy on me for this one…it’s my first try. Here it goes: I think, I know, and I wonder.

I think that we will see high school athletics in some capacity this school year, but it comes with questions. I wonder how the school district would justify resuming athletic activities without having all students enrolled in an in-person learning model. Logistically, it’s hard to justify. I know that teachers within the district have been getting updates for when it’ll be their turn to get the vaccine. I think that around the end of April we could start to see some normalcy on campuses, which would then lead to certain sports opening back up. I know that a lot of this thinking is conjecture, but I have my sources.

I wonder if people will push back on the fact that I’m writing about potentially bringing sports back while we are in the middle of a pandemic. To that, I would say that I’m a sports writer writing for a sports website. My expertise is not in medicine or politics and the re-opening of schools/sports should be determined by others in far more important positions than myself. I know that I’m not trying to solve anything, but rather put my thoughts into words. I wonder if this piece might come off as tone deaf, but I want to assure the reader that this is just about what I think….and wonder…and sometimes know.

I think that I would consider myself an avid gym-goer and I know that local gym venues are open for business. I wonder how places like this can stay open while we tell student-athletes that competing cannot be done. I’m not calling for a shutdown of places like these, but it’s certainly hard to wrap my head around strangers being allowed to swap sweat on different machines while other things remain shut down. Is wearing masks the key to keeping these places open? If so, I wonder if the district, and players/coaches, would be open to wearing masks during athletic competition if it meant there could be a season. Would it look strange? Sure. Would it be worth it? Yes, probably. If the only way that sports could come back is if athletes wore masks, would anybody be against it?

I know that when competition ramps back up it will be like it never left…sort of. I know that kids will be ready to compete and the sidelines/dugout/bench will be fired up just as they were before the shutdown in early 2020. I wonder what the crowds might look like at these events. At stadiums like Veteran’s Memorial and Lamonica, it would be easy to space out family members—if that’s whose allowed in. But what happens when it comes to other sports where everything is much more confined? I think that baseball stadiums and basketball arenas could make adequate accommodations to make sure that parents are let in to watch their children compete…but I don’t think we will see student sections and general fans in these facilities until at least the 2021 school year. On second thought, with the crowds we see at most Clovis Unified football games nowadays, maybe there doesn’t need to be crowd control.

I think I became conflicted when I’ve walked over to Buchanan the last few weekends and saw a handful of travel baseball teams playing games. As I stood and watched, I wondered how much kids are actually getting out of this experience. I know that innings need to be played and at-bats need to be had, but do 68 MPH heaters, coupled with low energy gameplay, create more bad habits than good? I think it’s probably fine because some competition is better than no competition…especially in times like these. However, I know that high school baseball programs will need to spend more time than usual breaking players of certain travel ball habits when practices resume for real.

I know that unless you have tested positive for COVID-19, you cannot claim that you’ve had (and defeated) COVID-19. 

I know that people are getting antsy and, quite frankly, feeling suffocated with the rules the state of California has implemented for our high school athletes. Not only were there “Let Them Play” rallies all across the state last Friday, but parents and students have been going to social media to voice their concerns for months now. It’s also important to point out that COVID cases are still soaring and according to the California Department of Public Health, we have just arrived at 3 million statewide cases. If California continues at this trajectory, Fresno County will likely not be moving out of their current ‘COVID’ tiers anytime soon. We know what that means for most high school athletic programs.

Most importantly, I know that it’s crucial to remember that we are all on the same team when it comes to what’s best/safe for our young athletes.

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