In a normal year, we would be talking about track meets, baseball games, soccer matches and golf duals right now.
Instead, the spring sports season is delayed for an undetermined amount of time while the world deals with the coronavirus pandemic. The Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) has not given an update on when the season will resume, other than they are not planning on canceling any spring sports championships.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson issued a statewide social distancing order that closes down schools until Monday, April 6; which would be the earliest schools and spring sports could resume.
For Monroe City High School, April 6 is the tentative date for the school to re-open and resume spring sports.
“As of right now April 6 is our start date back for school, but as with everything else going on with the coronavirus, it is completely a fluid situation,” said Monroe City athletic director Cody Leonard. “If we truly start back on (April 6), then that is the goal. But if here is more time added to social distancing, then that will be pushed back.”
Palmyra High School is also closed through at least April 6, with all athletic events canceled or postponed until then.
Palmyra athletic director Brian Wosman said the school does not know what to expect in the coming weeks.
“Our association has sent us word that if we get to go back to school, we will resume our season in some way,” Wosman said. “We just don't really know what that will look like. I think every coach and student-athlete is still holding out hope of some kind of season.”
Another complication is that school closures vary by district, with some Missouri school closed past the April 6 date.
Hannibal High School will be closed until at least Tuesday, April 14. During that time, the maintenance and custodial departments will disinfect all school facilities, including Korf Gymnasium and Porter Stadium.
Mark Twain High School is tentatively scheduled to re-open on Wednesday, April 15, depending on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic on that date. In the meantime, all practices have been canceled and athletic events have been postponed for the Tigers.
Mark Twain athletic director Cody McCann said while MSHSAA has not suspended the spring sports season, schools cannot resume normal activities until officials clear them to re-open.
“I have not heard what the season would look like when and if the season starts back up,” McCann said. “I believe for at least baseball, schools will try to get their conference games in. I'm not sure what the postseason would look like.”
With different schools potentially opening at different times, it could lead to scheduling difficulties and an abbreviated season if play can resume.
One possibility would be schools playing sports into the summer. This would not be unprecedented in high school sports; considering our neighbors to the north, Iowa, play baseball and softball in the summer season.
Leonard said any call about extending the season into the summer would have to be made by the MSHSAA.
“MSHSAA will have to decide if that is feasible with state championship sites,” Leonard said. “As of right now, MSHSAA is planning on keeping the dates the same. With some schools already canceled for the remainder of the school year, any state championship event will already look much different than in year's past.”
MSHSAA put out a press release on March 24 stating they are still preparing for spring championships, with their staff looking at backup venues and developing multiple variations of what the postseason may look like.
This has been a sad turn of events for senior athletes, who are unsure if they will even get to play their final high school season.
“I feel for the seniors,” McCann said. “It's hard watching this take away their final season. I try to look at it as a life lesson, not everything will go down as planned or anticipated, but you have to roll with it and make the best of what your situation is.”