This summer isn’t flawless, but the lights are on

I was leaving Iowa City, heading south as the sun was setting, when I saw the ballpark lights burning near Lone Tree.
Down U.S. 218, the lights were on at Highland High School.
There was something comforting about the lights. Something that made it look like a normal summer.
Let’s face it — we needed something comforting after all of the social distancing in April and May because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The limited baseball and softball season is part of the gradual reopening of the state. And the sports world has been watching.
ESPN.com had a story on opening night. Highlights from games have been shown on national news shows.
For the most part, the season has gone as planned, even when considering the negative things that have happened.
Some school districts voted to not have a season. Other districts or stadiums have shut down games for a quarantine period because athletes, coaches or stadium workers have tested positive for the virus, or have been in contact with someone who has the virus. Some conferences have limited the number of fans at games. Some games have had to be postponed because umpires weren’t available. And there are mixed reviews from around the state about how much social distancing is being practiced at the ballpark.
All of this was expected. The recovery from the coronavirus was not going to be smooth.
But schools have done a good job of making sure conditions are as safe as possible. And there was no crazy scheduling from coaches trying to cram in as many games as possible in the limited time that was available for the season.
The IHSAA and IGHSAU put a lot of confidence in school districts to do the necessary things to make sure this season would be as safe as it could be, and the districts have followed through. In a lot of ways, it was going to be an experiment for what can be done in the fall when schools reopen.
Many fans haven’t stayed away. Community Field’s parking lot was packed with cars on Friday night when Burlington and Notre Dame played in baseball.The goal is to get through the state tournaments, to crown champions in both sports. Then analyze what worked and what didn’t as schools prepare to reopen for the first time since March.
It’s unclear what the fall sports seasons will look like. Will fans at volleyball games be required to wear masks, because the matches are indoors? Will there be limits on fans for all events? Are there contingencies built in if a team can’t play for a couple of weeks because of a positive test or exposure to the virus?
This summer may help answer those questions.
For now, the lights are on. And it’s a good sign.
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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