A Grip on Sports: After nearly two years, COVID-19 continues to plant its claws in sport at all levels

INFLUENZA IN SPORT • Is sport doomed? Not in the long run. But this month. Following. Through the winter? Will the ever-growing spread of COVID-19 pull the rug in sporting events from high school to professional ranks?


• It seems like, However, when millions of dollars are involved – pro and college sports certainly qualify – it’s hard to see the tap be turned off for a little thing like a third of players who get sick.

The NFL showed this to be the case yesterday when it changed its mind about the strict coronavirus rules it put in place over the summer. No postponement? We were joking. Hard rules for returning to the field after a positive test? Nah, we’re fine.

The league cited the rapid rise of the omicron variant and its ability to infect the unvaccinated and vaccinated as reason enough to make the changes. “The emergence of the omicron variant is precisely the kind of change that warrants a flexible response,” the NFL said in a memo.

As if any outbreak this season had been caused by something other than a virulent variant. Of course, that was a possibility. It was the only possibility. But the league office hadn’t anticipated that such a thing would happen when they put together their strict rules? There is no evidence that he did. If he had, he would have covered his butt when his period was announced last summer.

But the NFL isn’t the only level, or league, that’s struggling. The NHL is also, maybe worse than anyone. The NBA is apparently trying to catch up. What about college hoops? We’ve seen it happen here before, with the University of Washington taking the day off in recent weeks.

It impacted Gonzaga – the Zags and Huskies were supposed to play last Sunday and didn’t – and forced him into this morning’s game with Texas Tech after a long layoff. At least the game is still active. UCLA’s marquee game with North Carolina has been called off as the Tar Heels quickly pivot to play Kentucky, who lost their game to the coronavirus-affected Ohio State.

And it wasn’t the only highly anticipated game canceled. The list has grown in the past 24 hours.

Don’t think it ends there. Some high school games in the Puget Sound area were called off last night with some being the key word here. The Washington Department of Health announced new, stricter protocols for all indoor sports, revoking the pass granted to those vaccinated. As soon as possible, all young participants in sports – whether vaccinated or not – basketball, wrestling and other high-contact indoor activities should be tested at least three times per week.

All because there was an omicron variant outbreak in the southwestern part of the state earlier this month, attributed to wrestling tournaments in the region.

“There were a ton of people in indoor spaces, crammed into bleachers without masks,” Dr Scott Lindquist, state epidemiologist for communicable diseases, told media. “So I can say clearly: No, the advice was not followed. “

Which, if I understand correctly, means that a group of people ignored guidelines for watching their kids wrestle and could have ruined winter sports seasons for everyone? Did I miss something?

That gives a whole new definition of the term “fanatic”, doesn’t it?


Gonzaga: As far as we know, the game against Texas Tech in Phoenix will take place this morning. But if we learned anything from last season, it taught us that we don’t know for sure until the game starts. Theo Lawson is doing the game preview today and adding the key match. … Around the WCC, Saint Mary’s faced San Diego State on Friday night in Phoenix. The Gaels lost. … Portland lost while visiting the state of San Jose. … Pacific also lost at home to North Dakota State. … BYU is heading to Weber State tonight.

WSU: When Jake Dickert looked for someone to replace him as defensive coordinator, he didn’t want to change things. By hiring Brian Ward, a fellow coach in the past, he ensured that this would not happen. Colton Clark recently spoke with Ward and concocted this story. … Elsewhere in Pac-12 and college football, new Washington coach Kalen DeBoer is following the same path with his staff, hiring some from Fresno State and keeping some of the staff at Jimmy Lake. … Jon Wilner is answering a few questions this morning on the Mercury News site. … Oregon State will end its season today against the same school WSU started the season playing: Utah State. … The Pac-12 would appreciate a Beaver victory. … Britain Covey is one of the main reasons Utah finally reached the Rose Bowl. … Oregon has made a few hires, including coordinators on both sides of the ball. … Everyone, including UCLA, is cautious of the coronavirus. … USC is trying to change its recent missteps in recruiting, one of which hasn’t attracted enough local talent to stay home. … Colorado has hired an offensive coordinator. … In basketball news, eighth-place Arizona welcomes Cal Baptist as the Wildcats prepare for the conference game. … Utah is heading south for another tough non-conference game. … Colorado faces Cal State Bakersfield. … USC has extended coach Andy Enfeld’s contract. … Oregon faces No. 1 Baylor.

EWU: Legal (and financial) news keeps coming from Cheney. Former football coach Chad Bodnar filed a lawsuit against the school, alleging that discrimination based on age and gender was at the root of his dismissal. Jim Allen has this story. … Around the Big Sky, the State of Montana faces a familiar foe, the State of South Dakota, with a spot in the FCS title game on the line. Winner faces, who else, State of North Dakota. … In basketball news, northern Arizona has at least one player whose trip to Flagstaff has not been easy. … Weber State will try to bounce back from BYU’s visit.

Preparations: Before we dive into the changes in COVID-19, we’ll pass on this roundup from Dave Nichols. It covers the Friday night action. … Dave also has a notebook that examines the reaction to changes in state policy. … These changes are covered by Arielle Dreher in SR and others around the state.

Chiefs: A quick start led to a well-deserved 4-1 victory over visiting Portland on Friday night. Kevin Dudley was in the arena and covered this game.

Seahawks: Seattle has two players facing COVID-19. The Rams have over a third of their roster. Plus, the Hawks are essentially out of the playoff race. Los Angeles is still in contention for the NFC West title. The game has been postponed until Tuesday evening. Did we mention that the team that could have forfeited under the now superseded league guidelines is located in Los Angeles? … Games between the Rams and the Seahawks always seem to have something more. … Former Hawks offensive lineman George Fant is doing remarkable things off the field.

Kraken: The December 23 game in Calgary has already been postponed.


• If I seem to be a little annoyed because some selfish… ah, forget that. Getting vaccinated, boosting, always wearing a mask inside, even in coaching, that is not enough. Because others will not do what is necessary so that we can continue to play sports in high school. Now someone will put a tampon in my nose three times a week. (And don’t get me started on all of those people who got sick or died from the pandemic, many of whom shouldn’t have been affected in the first place.) What a treat. Regarding the last step, however, I am pessimistic. If the numbers continue to rise (and the outlook seems to be that they will), it seems unlikely that the state will allow the sport to continue in high school, at least with fans in attendance. Until later …

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