COVID-19 hit the world of sports like a heavy dump truck carrying the bricks what we believe is the established normalcy of the sports schedule in the second week of March on Wednesday night.
Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19 and as of Thursday afternoon the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, NCAA, Major League Soccer and NASCAR have all either canceled or moved to forward with holding events without fans.
Oconee County’s athletic facilities will look similar to that of higher levels of sports at least for the next two weeks. On Thursday GHSA executive director Dr. Robin Hines issued a statement that recommended the suspension of play for the next two weeks.
The change in course came after Georgia Governor Brian Kemp recommended the closing of schools throughout the state as the state’s number of cases of COVID-19 took a spike from 31 cases on Thursday morning to 99 by the end of the weekend.
“We will definitely suspend for the next two weeks, as the Governor recommended,” said Hines in the statement. “By close of business on Friday, March 27th, we will issue an update... We hate to have to make this call, but we must do what is in the best interest of our student-athletes and fans.”
The GHSA’s recommendation was heeded and the area’s five high schools announced the suspensions of their spring sports schedules over on Thursday evening and Friday.
Oconee County High School’s baseball team allowed its baseball team to play a home game on Saturday before putting a pin in their spring sports calendar. Prince Avenue Christian School’s baseball team went forth with its game on Friday night with local rival Athens Christian.
The Oconee Little League scratched its opening day ceremony that was planned for Saturday morning and decided on a delayed start to the season until at least April 6.
There isn’t a clear idea of when the OLL season will begin.
There could be further postponement or cancelation to come in the coming weeks for OLL as well as the high school programs that have hit the pause button on spring seasons.
“It’s kind of a fluid situation,” OLL president Wesley Scott said. “We’re going to have to play it by ear and see what happens and decide if we’re going to have a shortened season or what. We have to figure out how we’re going to make this work.”
The decision makers within the area’s athletic departments will all be searching for the correct way to approach the next few weeks with eyes on the upper levels of sports but with their minds on the best thing for the student athletes that they serve.
“We’re just trying to make do as a school and keep our parents educated,” PACS athletic director Richard Ricketts said. “There’s a balance. You want to have sense, but you also want to make sure you’re doing what’s the safest for the kids...I’m not about to start telling the GHSA what to do. They’re in a no-win situation. They’re dealing with teams from all over the state. We’re in Bogart, Georgia. My perspective may be different than somebody that lives in Fulton County.”