Nation will watch how Iowa handles summer sports

The decision by the Iowa High School Athletic Association and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union to allow summer baseball and softball was bigger than what people realize.

It’s not just a part of the state’s reopening that is occurring during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The whole nation is watching.

The first games, set for June 15 around the state, will be the first high school sporting events since school districts around the nation closed in the spring because of the pandemic.

Which is why it’s important that Iowa gets this right.

The season will be abbreviated — neither association has announced a games limit, but it figures to be somewhere around 25 games instead of the usual 40.

There will be fans, but the recommendation is for them to maintain social distancing. There will be sanitizing of equipment used by players. Sorry, no concession stands.

All of these guidelines were part of the National Federation of High Schools release earlier in the week, and they are reasonable to follow.

There is a chance being taken here. Any coronavirus outbreak ends the season, and then puts the fall seasons, and much more, in jeopardy.

Which is why everyone needs to be safe.

Which is why everyone needs to be smart.

And it’s better that everyone understands that now.

This is going to be a summer season unlike any other. And that’s how it needs to be treated. It’s not going to be a season of games every night, tournaments on weekends, travel everywhere, etc.

It’s easy, perhaps, to be comfortable with being outside in warm temperatures, but there is still a lot we don’t know about this virus, and it’s best that we still respect it.

The IHSAA and IGHSAU could have easily shut things down for the rest of the summer, and started fresh with the fall seasons. It might not have been a popular decision, but it would have been understandable.

Both associations have handled the pandemic well. They waited as long as possible to cancel the spring season, keeping some hope alive just because of the unpredictability of what was going on in the state and the nation.

By making this decision, they are granting a certain amount of trust in athletic directors, coaches, players and fans.

Be safe. Be smart. And you can still enjoy the games.

It’s not that hard to do.

John Bohnenkamp is publisher of Hawkeye Maven and contributing sports writer for the Pen City Current. His writings can be found on Facebook at Hawkeye Maven or online at www.si.com/college/iowa/

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