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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused for lots of changes in high school athletics this school season and school administrations are following guidelines to assist the state directions for safety for everyone involved with the great area of high school athletics. Photo Contributed

Sports Updates Include COVID Protocol

MADISON- The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have an impact on the local sports scene with the recent cancellation of the 2020 version of the Huntsville City Classic boys high school basketball tournament. Formerly the Huntsville Times Classic, the annual tournament has been held at Huntsville High School since 1983. The 16-team tournament is a traditional Christmas time event and is regarded as one of the best tournaments in Alabama.

Pandemic Causes Changes

For the first time in the 50-year history of the National Federation of State High School Associations’ (NFHS) annual participation survey of high school athletics, the 2019-2020 survey was unable to be completed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down all high school sports competition in March. Many of the sports were canceled mid-season, however, though complete statistics are unavailable, numbers from a couple of sports last fall were obtained and showed football’s three-year decline of over 20,000 across the country, the sport only dropped by 2,000 in 2019.

The continued enthusiasm for football has been evident this fall, even among the pandemic, as local high school associations across the country have worked with government, education and health leaders to do everything possible to offer the sport and along with all sports with certain in-place guidelines.

In addition to football, girls volleyball continued its tremendous growth. In the past 10 years, the sport has added 60,000 participants and has passed basketball as the No. 2 sport for girls behind track and field nationwide.

State Cheer Competition

The AHSAA State Cheer Competition has been rescheduled. The high school athletic governing body has secured new dates for Feb. 3-4 in Hanceville at Wallace State Community College. The original date was set for Dec. 12, but was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

COVID Protocol

The protocol surrounding athletics during the pandemic is among the newest guidelines for high school sports. The modifications outlined by the AHSAA are meant to decrease potential exposure to respiratory droplets by encouraging social distancing, limiting participation in administrative tasks to essential personnel and allowing for appropriate equipment.

In basketball, some of the changes include no jump balls to start the game or overtime period as the visiting team will start the game with the ball at midcourt and a coin-flip used to start overtime; suspend handshakes prior to and following games; social distancing on the bench; basketballs sanitized by the home team; referees allowed to use gloves and hand or electronic whistles.

Bowling also made provisions for the pandemic. Those temporary exceptions include the allowing of isopropyl alcohol on the outer surface of the ball at any time during competition; teams are to use one lane and not rotate lanes; all holes drilled in bowling ball must be used for gripping purposes on every delivery. The bowling season runs through the end of January.

In track and field, the COVID changes are led by the fact runners can wear gloves when passing the baton during a relay race and schools can bring their own batons and be disinfected after each race. In addition, social distancing is required at all times and hand sanitizer should be plentiful at all contests and practices.

Wrestling, the most hands-on sport in high school athletics, is very cautious implementing guidelines to be followed through its season, which comes to a close in mid-February. Wrestling mats must be disinfected prior to competition; athletes and coaches must wear masks off the mat; minimize the number of spectators; wrestlers to have their temperature taken prior to competition; limit spectators.

Huntsville Championship Golf

Tickets to the Huntsville Championship golf tournament scheduled for April 26-May 2 at the Legends Golf Classic in southeast Huntsville are currently on sale. The professional golf tournament on the Korn Ferry Tour offers two ticket types: Good Any Day and the SkyDeck presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama.

Volunteers are also needed and current registration is underway for those wishing to be a part of the various positions required to host a professional golf tournament featuring some of the up and coming stars of pro golf. The Korn Ferry Tour is the place for future stars of the PGA.

Winter Hydration

It’s cold outside and you won’t sweat much when exercising or participating in any athletic event outdoors or indoors this time of the year. There is less moisture in the cold air and our bodies have to moisturize the air we’re taking in so we lose a little bit every time we take a breath.

Unlike the summer when you know the moment you’re thirsty, cold weather diminishes the body’s thirst response up to 40-percent. It’s important to remain hydrated by drinking plenty of water despite having the thirst quench response. It’s important to properly hydrate before working out or participating in a contest even begins. Experts indicate it could take up to 12 hours to properly hydrate during the cold weather.

One way to check hydration levels at any time of the year is with urine color: colorless or pale yellow urine means you are well hydrated; dark yellow or tea-colored urine means you need to drink water- lots of it.

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