Preparation for fall sports really ramps up after the Fourth of July holiday.
Schools and colleges are now about a month away from the start of their academic years, and it’s about this time that coaches usually start turning things up a few notches with summer workouts and practices.
The same goes for the news coverage side as well. I don’t like to hear the words “football preview section” before I've seen some fireworks light up Lake Sinclair, but that unofficial rule was broken a couple times this year.
But here we are now after Independence Day and not really any closer to knowing how, or if, high school, college or even professional seasons — those getting ready for their regular seasons or even those altered — will proceed as planned. GHSA has relaxed restrictions placed on summer workouts almost week-by-week, so high school football, softball, cross country and volleyball seasons seem to be on track. As we learned back in March though, that can all change very quickly.
College football, probably my favorite sport to follow, is taking some hits. Summer media days are being canceled/altered to accommodate the virus that has crippled our country. While the number of positive cases continues to rise, the death rate is decreasing, in Georgia at least. But we don’t crown state champions in college football, not officially anyway, a fact that probably makes Georgia Tech and its fans very happy. College programs are beginning to cancel some early season games, and now the CFB world is looking to the Ivy League of all places to see what those institutions decide to do with their athletics this fall. The conference known more for its academics than athletics was among the first to cancel its conference basketball tournament in the spring. Dominoes began falling very quickly after that decision as the NCAA eventually canceled all collegiate competition for the remainder of the semester. High schools held out hope that conditions would improve, but eventually followed suit. Online sports media outlet The Athletic is reporting that Ivy League coaches are expecting the conference’s football season to be moved to the spring to allow for more time. The final decision, whatever it may be, is expected to be made public today, so it will be interesting to see what comes after that. No matter what decision is made we must all remember that it can change very quickly.
Baseball seems hellbent on playing its sprint-not-marathon season beginning in a couple of weeks. Players are testing positive for COVID-19 almost every day during training camp 2.0. Some are seeing firsthand how the whole situation is being handled and choosing to return home to be with their families. Felix Hernandez did not surprise me much at all when he made that decision, and Nick Markakis really didn’t either. The best playing days for both are behind them, so I can see why they would opt out. That is their prerogative entirely. I do hope that I can continue to look forward to having the Atlanta Braves on my television or on my radio every night, but I recognize that that could all change very quickly.
No one — not our president, any medical expert or league commissioner — can know what direction this ongoing pandemic will take. We can only acknowledge that these are very difficult decisions they are having to make and try to do our part to make things better — not worse.