IF THE HAT FITS: Preparing for the return of sports

Look at where we are and look at where we started — because it looks like we’re going to play ball.

The Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association announced its intention to move forward with high school athletics and activities during a Zoom meeting with media members on Thursday.

Being the inquisitive bunch that we are, there were plenty of questions my colleagues asked about what that might actually end up looking like in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sure, things are going to look a little different than what we’re used to for a while, and circumstances could change and force adjusting as needed as the fall seasons arrive. The situation remains very fluid, but OSSAA executive director David Jackson reiterated the state’s intent to let them play.

Since the pandemic has effected different areas of the state differently, Jackson said it will be up to the schools to determine protocols and actions moving forward, as they know their specific situations better than the state office.

For our area, schools have made their own return-to-play practices tailored to each district. Most of these seem to be similar with the same basic tenets — temp checks, health screenings, and detailed sanitation methods. And it’s helped to keep their kids safe as they jump back into their routines.

And as I’ve visited with coaches this summer, a sense of normalcy has surfaced. Players pushing each other in practice, the sounds of whistles and feet quickly treading the turf, weights clinking together, and the Oklahoma sun watching over it all.

I’d be lying if I said that didn’t boost my serotonin a little bit. Teammates have been reunited, and coaches have their second families back together again. The anticipation of a new season and what it could become is energizing. Couple that with the return of pro sports this month, and it seems like our world gets a little brighter.

I don’t know what the future holds, or how sports will look in a few months from now. We’ll probably have to do things a little differently for a while. But what I do know is there’s excitement in the air, you can smell it. Or maybe that’s the hot dogs on the grill.

Either way, we’ve learned so much about ourselves and what we sometimes take for granted. But seeing happiness in the face of unchartered territory is always a welcome sight. Especially as we move forward together.

Contact Derek Hatridge at dhatridge@mcalesternews.com.

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