The Sports Return Rundown

Lauren Smith, Managing Editor

On Oct.30, Governor Ralph Northam signed off on the final executive order allowing all Virginia High School sports to begin in December. Along with the approval came a set of guidelines concerning each sport and suggestions for how to play amid the pandemic. 

Across the board, attendance at sporting events will remain the same, allowing 250 persons per field or no more than 50% of the occupancy load. 

There were no changes to pre-season practices, as they should continue to follow the Phase 3 guidelines set by the Virginia High School League. 

 These guidelines suggest athletes not be required to wear masks during practices or competitions. However, when possible, masks should be worn by coaches, officials and athletes alike. Face coverings must be worn while traveling on school transportation and while on the sidelines. 

Although no requirements are listed for locker rooms, it is heavily suggested that host schools provide a sanitary locker room with enough space for athletes to socially distance. When proper space isn’t available to socially distance, coaches and staff should advise a plan to limit the number of athletes in the locker room at once. The guidelines also mention that athletes will leave the locker room once they have changed to avoid congregating. 

A lengthy list states that there will be no hugging, handshakes, fist bumps or high-fives. Post/pre-game handshakes are no longer allowed, nor are pre-game meetings or post-game award ceremonies. Sharing of equipment or clothing is prohibited, and each participant should provide his or her own water. 

Changes suggested to each sport vary. In baseball, it is recommended that chewing seeds/gum no longer be permitted. Soccer will have no drop ball restarts, boys lacrosse will have no game faceoffs, and body checks are illegal for lacrosse this season. For track and field, coaches should pick up awards prior to the team’s departure, and in volleyball, each match will not start with a coin toss to determine who serves/receives. Instead, it is established that the visiting team will serve first.

The changes made are meant to allow students to play while also staying aware of COVID-19 precautions. 

“Keeping our student-athletes safe is critical during this pandemic,” Northam said.

Visit the VHSL website for guidelines and more in-depth information regarding what changes have been made directly to your sport.