Iowa was able to get its winter high school sports season finished last week despite concerns over the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The final games of the boys basketball tournament were played with limited fan access, but four champions were crowned.
Other states weren’t that fortunate. Illinois stopped its boys basketball tournament, and Missouri did the same for this weekend.
No decision was wrong in any of the cases.
Iowa’s tournament was in its final two days when the rest of the nation’s sports began shutting down. Illinois’ small schools hadn’t played their state semifinals in Peoria, and the larger schools were still in sectional play. Missouri had yet to play its state semifinals and championships for the large schools.
Now, as Iowa’s schools are beginning to close down for four weeks at the request of Gov. Kim Reynolds, the Iowa High School Athletic Association and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union have postponed the start of the spring sports seasons until April 13.
It’s another decision that isn’t wrong, because a permanent one doesn’t need to be made yet. By not canceling the spring season entirely, the IHSAA and IGHSAU at least keep alive the chance of some sort of season.
How likely that is remains to be seen, but it doesn’t look good.
The CDC recommended on Sunday night no gatherings of more than 50 people for at least eight weeks. On Monday, the recommendation was for gatherings of no more than 10 people. There is a call for a reduction of discretionary travel. There may be more recommendations to come.
So we have no idea what this will look like in four weeks.
The spring season is all outdoor sports, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t the chance for the spread of the virus. A two-class, 16-team track and field meet is a tight congregation of fans and athletes, even if it is outside.
In the coming days, we will get a better idea on how the virus is spreading throughout the state, and throughout the nation. We want our sports back — they are a big part of our society, a big part of our area’s fabric.
But we can’t rush their return in this risky environment, nor should we try.
The best thing to do now is wait and see.
You would like to see seniors get a chance at a final season, but these are difficult times that require decisions that can be costly to some for the benefit of all.
The IHSAA and IGHSAU made the smart decision, with schools closed, to put a halt to the start of the spring season.
They kept some hope alive, and that’s all you can ask for right now.
John Bohnenkamp is a national award-winning sports reporter, and is a contributing writer for Pen City Current.