HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – Channel 3 has been looking at how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting different aspects of our lives.
We’re focusing on the future of sports in Connecticut and how things will be different for athletes from the little leagues through high school.
Channel 3 got a glimpse as what that might look like three months and even three years from now.
High school athletic directors, coaches, and athletes around the state are in a holding pattern.
For them, there is still some time before the tough decisions will be made about the fall sports season.
For teams that would normally play this summer, like little league and American Legion, there’s hope that a delayed season is still possible.
At Muzzy Field in Bristol, home of the Bristol American Legion Baseball, they actually think they can play games this summer.
“We’ve got to get these kids onto the field, out of the house, in a competitive mode,” said Paul LeFluer, General Manager of Bristol American Legion Baseball.
Bristol is hoping to run a one-year independent league with social distance guidelines, so that kids who were seniors in high school can have one last chance to play.
“I definitely think it would be a challenge, but I think we can get it done. We’re not just going to shut down our lives, we want to go on,” said Evan Bouchard, a senior at Bristol Central High School.
Going on is what educators around the state are talking about on a weekly basis. In a normal year, practice for fall sports would begin in three months, but this is far from a normal year.
“If and when our health officials give us clearance to open facilities, the key will be what adaptations do we have to have to keep kids safe,” said Steve Risser, athletics director for Southington.
One local athletics director said changing the way the games are played would be difficult, since a sport like football would be hard to play without blocking or tackling. Wrestling would be difficult to do when the entire sport is about physical contact.
Terry Ziemnicki, who coaches field hockey and lacrosse at Avon and Granby high schools says there are safety issues beyond just playing the games.
“There’s a few things, sharing water bottles, bus rides, these kids are sitting close together on away games,” Ziemnicki said.
The hope is that the virus won’t get passed on the stands.
The head of the CIAC says they’ve talked about playing games without fans, or with restrictions on how many fans could attend games, but these are short-term solutions.
But, what about the long-term, what about sports three years from now?
“I don’t think it’ll be the same. They’re going to change a lot of things like team meetings after the game, during games, spacing on benches. I think everything’s going to change,” said Bill Mason, a baseball coach.
Amy Webb, a quantitative futurist and founder of the Future Today Institute says in the future, athletes may look at other sports to compete in.
“So, I think we’ll start to see a lot of people suddenly interested in gold and in tennis, possibly even sports like ping pong and badminton, which still require athleticism,” Webb said.
The future of sports in Connecticut and how they are played has already begun to change.