Rebuilding America: WNC sports groups face unpredictable future – Person Times

28May 2020


Buy Photo A.C. Reynolds beat out Owen with a final rating of 48-9 on Friday, August 31st, 2018 at Reynolds. (Picture: Colby Rabon, Person Times) ASHEVILLE-When it comes to North Carolina high school sports resuming in the fall,

there are still more concerns than responses. The spread of COVID-19 required the N.C High School Athletic Association to officially cancel spring sports on April 24 after initially delaying play in mid-March.

More: NCHSAA, NCISAA cancel spring sports after governor closes schools The cancellation robbed seniors of their final months of athletic eligibility and required the NCHSAA to end up the high school basketball season without its state championship games.

The Murphy Lady Bulldogs, who advanced to the 1A state championship game behind a 30-0 record, were called co-state champions.

More: Coronavirus: Girl Bulldogs come to grips with unfinished title run NCHSAA commissioner Que Tucker has said on several celebrations that there is no official timeline for the return of high school sports. The fall sports season, that includes high school football, is still tentatively arranged to begin on Aug. 1.

“I believe everybody is concerned,” she stated, “Will we be ready for fall sports in August? I don’t have the response to that yet. We’re still working on how we can accomplish that.”

More: Zoomed In: A conversation with NCHSAA commissioner Que Tucker A method back? On May 19, the National Federation of State High School Associations released tentative standards for high school sports to return.

The strategy lays out a three-phase method that includes routine screening for professional athletes and coaches, the using of cloth face coverings, limited contact in between and rigorous restrictions on viewers.


Inside the Huddle: National federation launches prepare for high school sports to return The plan is not an instruction however”guidance for private states to consider as they return to activities this fall,”according to NFHS executive director Dr. Karissa Niehoff.

“States will use the assistance in this file as it best fits their state after speaking with regional and state health departments,” she added in a news release.

The NFHS noted wrestling, football, kids lacrosse, competitive cheer and dance as sports with higher threat of spreading COVID-19 and stated they ought to be the last sports to be enabled to return to play.

Basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball and soccer were placed into the moderate risk category and private sports like cross country, swimming, golf and specific track and field occasions were noted as lower risk sports.

Empty arenas, empty pockets

Tucker, in addition to many WNC football coaches and athletic directors, have growing issue about betting empty arenas on Friday nights.

The money made from football games is accountable for most of the annual spending plan of local athletic programs and spends for non-revenue sports during the athletic year.

Swain County football coach and athletic director Neil Blankenship stated his program earns around $15,000 for each house football video game.

More: Zoomed In: A conversation with Swain County’s Neil Blankenship The Pisgah-Tuscola rivalry video game– which averages around 10,000 to 15,000 fans every year– raises $40,000 to $50,000 in ticket sales alone. For the house group, that game pays for almost half of the annual athletic budget over the next two years, according to Pisgah Athletic Director Casey Kruk.

“Losing that gate money would be devastating,” Kruk said.

More: Focused: A conversation with Pisgah’s Casey Kruk Reynolds cross nation coach David Honea said his program depends upon cash made from football to endure.

“If you are in high school sports you are a football fan,” he stated.

Uncertain return date

The NCHSAA has continued to cancel formerly set up summer season events, including a basketball recruiting occasion in June.

The NCAA formerly extended the recruiting dead period through at least June 30 due to the pandemic, which prevents college coaches from going to the event. They extended that dead duration to July 31 on May 28.

This week the NCHSAA revealed the statewide coronavirus dead period would be enabled to end on June 15. Nevertheless, they stated they ‘d stick to state and local government guidelines in addition to release their own standards for schools to follow.


NCHSAA cancels June basketball recruiting event The NCAA Division I Council voted May 20 to permit voluntary on-campus athletic activities to resume in football and males’s and ladies’s basketball starting June 1.

High school coaches, however, remain hesitant about being allowed to have contact with their gamers in the future.

“I’m preparing to not have my kids the entire summertime,” Erwin football coach Rodney Pruett. “I think in safe rather than sorry, and with football putting many kids in close distance, it’s difficult to picture us being able to be together. It’s a brand-new world and it’s not going away.”

Minors future in Asheville

Brian DeWine, the president of the Class A minors Asheville Tourists, stated in April that he could “ensure” that the ballpark would be able to reopen even if the entire 2020 season was cancelled.

DeWine said that the Tourists had the ability to keep all 13 of its their full-time employees in spite of the shutdown however did need to layoff seasonal employees. He hopes that baseball will resume in July, but he’s gotten ready for the long run.

“I can tell you that we will play baseball once again at McCormick Field as the Asheville Tourists,” DeWine stated. “I can guarantee that, even if our next opening day is April 2021, we will be back.”

Asheville City Soccer Club canceled its 2020 season due on March 23 and is eyeing a return in 2021.

Asheville City SC plays in USL League Two and advanced to the conference finals in 2019. The team plays at Memorial Arena in Asheville.

“As agonizing as this decision has actually been, we feel highly that this is the right decision,” ACSC stated in a press release in March. “Our preparation for 2021 starts now.”

David Thompson is an acclaimed reporter for the Citizen Times. He can be reached at, at 828-231-1747, or on Twitter at @acthshuddle.

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