East Penn Press

Sunday, July 5, 2020
PRESS PHOTO BY MIKE HAINESFields were still empty early this week as schools remain closed and the 2020 spring sports season is still on hold. PRESS PHOTO BY MIKE HAINESFields were still empty early this week as schools remain closed and the 2020 spring sports season is still on hold.

2020 spring sports season remains on hold

Thursday, April 9, 2020 by Mike Haines mhaines@tnonline.com in Sports

One of the most difficult aspects of current situation is all of the unknowns.

No one knows for sure when the coronavirus will subside, when life will return to normal. If life will ever return to normal.

With sports seasons on hold at every level, no one knows if there will be a scholastic spring sports season in 2020. If any sports get played this season, it’s unclear how much of a season will take place and what it might look like.

One thing is for certain, according to Northwestern Lehigh Athletic Director Jason Zimmerman, who has been part of the District 11 and Colonial League administration for most of his career.

“Northwestern Lehigh, the Colonial League, District 11 and the PIAA are all committed to providing as much of a season as we possibly can,” Zimmerman said Monday. “We’ve kicked around a lot of ideas, but right now it’s a fruitless effort. There are just a whole bunch of variables.”

Zimmerman and other ADs are used to coming up with contingency plans for weather and other unforeseen events that often cause changes to athletic schedules. But now, with so many things still to be determined, contingency plans are likely just a waste of time.

Leagues and districts are awaiting word from the PIAA, which is awaiting for word from Governor Wolf, who is following guidance of health professionals.

If things improve and schools reopen with enough time to play a few games, then that much of the season will be salvaged.

Zimmerman said everything is on the table. It’s possible, if social-distancing restrictions are lifted in May and it is safe to play, the PIAA and District 11 could choose to not hold championships this year. In that event, leagues could hold tournaments and they would be able to play into June because they would not need to finish before districts.

It’s also possible teams don’t play for any kind of championships this season. If restrictions are lifted in time for teams to play five-game seasons without a postseason, then that could be an option. Decisions will be made based on the amount of time left and the safety of the athletes and all involved.

When guidance eventually comes down from the state level, local sports administrators will jump into action and have a plan in place quickly.

“It will take us a day,” Zimmerman said. “Until we have an end date or there’s an end in sight, there’s not much we can do. Decisions are probably going to be made for us.”

A lot of athletes are wondering if they will get a chance to play their seasons. Some are all-stars who are heading off to play sports in college. Others are role players who are just making a varsity team for the first time, many more are somewhere in between.

Seniors who were looking forward to their last year of high school sports, as well as proms and graduation and everything that goes along with one’s last year of high school, are waiting to find out if those events will be altered or canceled.

“My heart aches for them,” said Zimmerman. “They’re coping with this better than the adults. Sport has prepared them for this. They know to play every game like it’s their last.”

Zimmerman, a graduate of Northwestern Lehigh, said one thing helping him though this uncharted territory is the support he has around him.

“I’m blessed to have great staff and great kids that are in tune with everything that’s going on,” he said. “We’re just trying to keep everything as normal as possible.”