By Ray Hamill — Faced with some difficult decisions in the coming weeks, whatever direction the H-DNL chooses to go in regard to the calendar it’s going to be difficult to please everybody.
The league ADs will meet on Wednesday to discuss potential options after the CIF and NCS recently announced the postponement of all fall sports to the new year, which will condense the traditional three sports seasons into two for the 2020/21 school year.
The immediate problem with that is it means nine sports will compete simultaneously locally in the spring (from March to June), which will put a lot of pressure on the smaller schools to field teams in certain sports and force many student athletes to choose one over another.
According to Eureka AD Kristie Christiansen, the league is open to discussing any potential solution that won’t force athletes to have to make a decision between two sports, including the many who play basketball and baseball or softball.
And you can add in soccer, wrestling and track and field to the spring mix as well, all of them sports that feature many dual athletes, which further complicates matters,
This will be felt especially hard in a league like the H-DNL, which features mostly smaller schools that rely heavily on multi-sport athletes.
One option the league will consider is a three-season model, which would feature shortened seasons for all sports and would automatically take the local teams out of playoff contention.
The big advantage to a three-season format is that it would allow the athletes to compete in all of their chosen sports instead of having to sacrifice one (or two), which would be particularly important to the seniors in their final year of competition.
Some of them will no doubt go on to play sports in college, but few if any will continue to play multiple sports and to deny them that opportunity in their final year of high school would be unfair.
The biggest disadvantage to the three-season model, on the other hand, would be sacrificing the NCS and state playoffs, something that is a priority for many of these kids and teams, especially, once again, the seniors.
And particularly so for the spring sport athletes who missed out on the section playoffs this year.
Another obvious disadvantage to the three-season model is the shortened seasons that would be limited to just eight weeks, something that would be particularly problematic for outdoor sports if we get a wet spring here on the North Coast.
I’ve talked to many coaches and people involved over the past week, with very strong opinions in favor of the different options.
Ideally, we would all love to see a plan that sticks with the CIF/NCS model and allows the local teams to compete in the playoffs, while also allowing the athletes to play all their chosen sports and not have to sacrifice one.
But is that possible?
It would likely take some very creative thinking, but could there be a way that local athletes would be able to play multiple sports in the spring?
It’s nothing new.
Some particularly ambitious athletes have been playing two sports in a season for years, such as baseball and softball players who compete in track and field, or volleyball and soccer players in the fall.
It would be more problematic for sports such as basketball and baseball or softball due to the number of games played in each sport. But it’s not out of the realm of possibility to suggest they could find a way.
Admittedly it would limit scheduling opportunities — which would be limited regardless if the league goes to eight-week seasons — and also could cause problems in regard to practice times.
It would also put a lot of pressure on the athletes themselves trying to compete in two sports at the same time, but like I said many of them choose to do so every year anyway.
No doubt, it’s something the league will discuss on Wednesday, and the ADs will be in a better position to know whether such an option could work.
Here’s hoping they can find some solution.
Because if not, there will be sacrifices made one way or the other, and more disappointment in a year that has been anything but normal.