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Editorial: All can take steps to make sports possible this school year

The N.C. High School Athletic Association made the most responsible decision Wednesday when it announced that fall sports would be pushed back until at least Sept. 1.

The association said Wednesday afternoon delaying fall sports was one of three changes, including making the first five days of the school year a “dead period” and that phase one of summer conditioning and workouts would continue. The state’s athletic commission Que Tucker said the steps provide hope for student athletes and a possibility of playing sports later. The delayed start date could be moved back further if things worsen. A number of local coaches suspect another delay is more than a possibility; it’s likely.

But Tucker said the association believes sports can and should be offered at some point. We tend to agree. For many students, sports are an essential part of adolescence and the high school experience. Coaches guide young men and women on their path to adulthood. There’s value in the teamwork required to win games. And we suspect a large number of Rowan-Salisbury Schools alumni would point to one or more coaches or sports experiences that had an instrumental part in their development as a person.

That’s why coaches, school administrators and state leaders must work to provide a safe sports experience at some point, even in the unfortunate scenario that several sports move to the spring and result in some overlap between athletes. Athletes may be forced to choose between two sports they love equally. Even in a best case scenario, sports are likely to face significant crowd restrictions.

The N.C. High School Athletic Association ended its announcement with an apt quote: “We are in this together, and we will play again.”

And it’s not just athletes, coaches and administrators who are “in this together.” Ensuring that sports happen requires a collective effort among all in our state. It means simple things like people wearing masks in public places and particularly when social distancing is not possible, following instructions in stores about the direction of aisles, washing hands frequently and avoiding large gatherings even if health precautions are taken.

Especially in communities like Rowan County, high school sports are an integral part of community life. And their ability to happen depends on how community members act in their daily lives.

By taking small steps, all North Carolinians can ensure the delay to September 1 is the only one.

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