“In 49 it’s just coronavirus, but this is Indiana.”
The play off the popular motto thrown around this time of year in regards to high school basketball in our state sadly fits right about now.
As of Friday morning, the Indiana High School Athletic Association remains committed to conducting Saturday’s regionals as scheduled. While general admission has been banned and a limit of 75 complimentary tickets have been given to each participating school for “only essential personnel, coaches, administrative staff and immediate family members.”
Meanwhile, the states surrounding Indiana – Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Illinois – have all canceled or postponed postseason tournaments across the board, putting safety above competition as its top priority.
But the IHSAA remains tone deaf.
Can the IHSAA guarantee those 75 complimentary tickets for each team this weekend will be given to those who are not already infected with coronavirus? Of course not, as symptoms typically do not begin to show themselves for a few days after contacting the virus.
So apparently in the IHSAA’s mind, a crowd of 250-ish people is safe. A crowd of 5,000 is not.
And these teams aren’t just going to play a game and come home. If you are lucky enough to be victorious in the regional semifinal, you will then stick around to play at night. You will go out to eat. You will congregate together in a confined space.
One of the wildest restrictions mentioned by the IHSAA at their Thursday news conference was the rule of “no pre or post game handshakes,” virtually ignoring the 32 minutes of intense physical interaction that these players are going to have before any customary handshakes would come to fruition.
The events and decisions over the last 48-72 hours in the United States are unprecedented. There is not a single modern-day health crisis that has affected this country more than where we presently find ourselves.
While the amount of deaths in the United States is currently low at 41, the virus is spreading throughout the country much faster than anyone anticipated. At present, it is killing at a 2.2 percent rate in America, whereas the common flu virus kills around 0.1 percent of the infected.
If the approximate amount of people that get the common flu each season get coronavirus, close to 1 million citizens of the United States will die.
There are some on social media who still remain defiant that this is not a big deal. When you look at the numbers, it doesn’t look that scary. But the POTENTIAL for what COULD happen is horrifying.
And that is what makes the IHSAA’s decision so egregious.
While children, teenagers and healthy middle-aged adults have a low chance of dying from coronavirus, they can be carriers in which they can then infect older adults and those with immune deficiencies. So even if the virus does not directly affect your health and mortality, your interaction with others can loom large.
It is a surreal time in our country, one with no comparable case except perhaps the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918-1920.
But by God, we are still going to play high school basketball games on Saturday (for now).
While immensely popular sporting events like the NCAA Tournament, the NBA and NHL and Formula 1 have made cancellations, the IHSAA is going to go ahead and play HIGH SCHOOL athletics. Make no mistake, we want high school basketball to happen. We would love to see it postponed and not cancelled in the same vein as the NCAA Tournament. But for now, for this Saturday, it seems like a decision that doesn’t take everything into consideration.
Shame on you, IHSAA.
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