Coronavirus “Refugees”: HS Student-Athletes

Elections have consequences…

In 2016, America reacted to the close of the first presidential administration led by a Black man by placing a reality TV star, Donald Trump, in the White House. By any reasonable measure, the host of “The Apprentice” has failed to adequately deal with the public health crisis caused by coronavirus pandemic that overwhelmed the mid-Atlantic region in the first half of 2020 and continues to advance through the South and mid-West with relentless verve.

Coronavirus is kicking our American asses! It reminds me of the Dream Team’s blowout of Somalia. Just like the African nation on the court, the USA led by “Coach” Trump is offering very little resistance.

Coronavirus has grabbed America by the pussy…

This situation could conceivably create pockets of athletic “refugees.” Recently, Maryland joined six other states with the District of Columbia, to move its fall season to the New Year. Unless, all 50 states and Washington, D.C. follow suit, scholarship level HS student-athletes have a tough choice to make.

Courtesy Woodrow Wilson High School Basketball, Washington, D.C.

If a football or basketball player in Maryland or Washington, D.C. has received “interest” from NCAA Division 1 or Division 2 programs but no offers, they feel immense pressure to perform in scholastic contests to prove themselves worthy of a scholarship. If they have offers from low major D1 programs or D2 programs, they feel pressure to prove themselves worthy of mid to high major offers.

The horrendous handling of the coronavirus pandemic by the Trump administration resulted has resulted in tremendous uncertainty in all facets of American life, including scholastic sports.

On February 26, President Trump boasted that the coronavirus was about to disappear altogether from the United States. “You have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.”

As of August 15, there have been 4,793,950 confirmed cases and 157,416 deaths.

People are justifiably shook… State governors and state sanctioning bodies have been forced to develop strategies and policies to deal with a NATIONAL crisis. They are performing admirably in their attempts to fill the void resulting from the breathtaking absence of Presidential leadership as the United States limps through the largest public health crisis in a century.

However, it should be noted that the absence of federal leadership has resulted in 50 different intervention strategies. The variation among the responses is significant. Some states have postponed Fall and Winter sports until 2021. Others are committed to fielding teams and having them play as if the coronavirus crisis has subsided.

District of Columbia — Per July 16 announcement, the District of Columbia State Athletic Association has postponed interscholastic activities until January 2021. Under this plan, winter season practices would begin Dec. 14 with games coming Jan. 4. Postponed fall sports would begin practicing Feb. 1 with games getting underway Feb. 22.

Maryland — The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) announced Aug. 3 that football along with all its fall and winter sports will be moved to a hybrid two-semester plan starting in 2021. The exact plan for how it will fit into the two semesters is still being worked on, but Maryland joined six other states with the District of Columbia, to move its fall season to the New Year. According to a MPSSAA news release, the new plan will be made available in the next couple of weeks.

Now… the parents of D.C. or Maryland student-athletes face a choice. Let’s assume their child has been contacted by college coaches interested in following him/her and perhaps offering an athletic scholarship. Thanks to the inept response of the occupant at 1600 Black Lives Matter Blvd., spring and summer organized sports activities have been abrogated.

No basketball playoffs… No grassroots/AAU events… No 7 on 7 football… No combines…

The NCAA implemented a “dead period” in March. It looks as if it will extend through the fall… No face to face recruiting… No live evaluation of players…

Athletic scholarships are worth anywhere from $200,000 to $320,000 depending on the school. That’s a nice chunk of change… These kids have invested years of training, practice and conditioning for this moment and it’s suddenly taken away.

What if the pandemic deepens? The schedule set for January 2021 may not come to fruition. What if they just cancel sports altogether?

Do D.C. and Maryland parents send their kids to play in Pennsylvania where games are scheduled to take place? Even if there are no fans, the video can be shared with college coaches looking to fill out rosters.

If Drexel told the kid they want to evaluate him in high school games, does he move to another state to make it happen. Drexel costs north of $80,000 per year. A Maryland kid could come play in the Philadelphia Catholic League or Division A of the Public League and prove himself worthy of the $320K schollie… Or, he could wait, hope and take the chance that the pandemic will subside and their current schools will have sports in the spring.

While driving on I-95 last weekend, I saw a “caravan” of a couple hundred fit, lean and athletic 17-18 year olds walking on the side of the road. They were headed north towards Philadelphia.

Elections have consequences… The next one is November 3, 2020.

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