New NCHSAA Playoff Seen as “Unfair”
On Sept. 8, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association released the new regulations for how playoffs are going to be run. The memo that was released stated that most playoffs will have a 50 percent cut of teams qualifying. One major rule for playoffs this year is that teams can only qualify for the playoffs if they compete in conference play.
The tricky part is that there was nothing said about the handful of schools in the state that are not in the conference.
“The association has not said anything about what to do for the schools that are independent,” said Renee Faenza, principal of the NCLA who is currently an independent school in the NCHSAA.
In the past the NCLA has been able to participate in sport playoffs, such as Cross Country and Golf. The Cross Country team had one runner, Giovanni Torres, even make it to the State meet. In past years, Cross Country could qualify for playoffs individually and Golf could qualify as the best independent scoring team in each classification and get an autobid.
“So we have not been in a conference for a few years now but XC is different and you can qualify individually as far as I know,” said Rickert coach of the Cross Country team.
Other NCLA sports such as soccer and basketball could not make the playoffs anyways because you have to be in a conference to participate in those sports. The one thing that will affect these sports though is the amount of games they can play due to them not being in a conference neither.
“We had a 29 game schedule this season trimmed down to 14 games and instead of playing games in Nov and Dec we will start in January. As far as the playoffs, until we are in a conference for team sports, we cannot enter the playoffs. Hopefully next year once we get into a conference all of that will change,” said Shoemaker, coach of the NCLA boys basketball team.
As far as preparing, there is not much these independent schools can do other than just wait and see what the association will say about them playing this offseason. Many schools, such as the NCLA, think it is unfair that the NCHSAA is not allowing the independent teams to play in a playoff this year.
“I don’t think it is fair because you don’t have an opportunity. Plus it is gonna be difficult anyways to find games due to it being a limited play season with half capacity,” said Faenza.
Swim Meets During a Pandemic
Sports are beginning to come back into the picture after months of not knowing if teams could return safely to practices and competitions. Safety is the number one priority on the minds of coaches and officials, the new guidelines implicated may be too hectic compared to the old normal environment.
Last weekend on Sept. 5, a swim meet was held for for the first time since Mar. The meet was not sanctioned by USA Swimming; it was a test run for the Greensboro Aquatic Center team to see if they could hold meets and follow health guidelines at the same time.
There were four teams swimming that day but they split the teams in two: two teams in the first session and two teams in the second session. By the time of arrival, everyone had to have their masks on and if it wasn’t off in time, you were not swimming. One team would go into the pool first and 15 minutes later the second team would follow.
No spectators were allowed, swimmers, coaches, officials, and timers were the only people on the pool deck. If anyone else wanted to stay, they could sit outside because they would be broadcasting the events and times over the loudspeaker. The locker rooms were also closed, they could not change in and out of our techsuits, swimsuits that can take up to 30 minutes to put on, and they really didn’t like people using the restroom except for if it was an emergency.
During warm ups, one pool was given to one team, and the other pool was given to the other team compared to normally when all four teams would have shared one pool. Before entering the pool every swimmer had to rinse themselves. When it came to lane assignments, normally there would be 12 people per lane, now there could only be three, two on one end and one on the other.
When it came to the actual meet, there were three checkpoints. At each checkpoint all swimmers in the same event would gather and already get put into lane order so by the time we would get to the blocks, we would just have to take off our mask, get on the blocks and go.
Personally, I didn’t like that we had to have our mask on till the very last second before diving off the blocks because before one of my events, they blew the first whistle to get onto the bocks, and I was still behind the blocks trying to get my mask off because it would not get out from under my cap. Not to mention the fact that once we finished swimming our race, we would get out and automatically have to put our mask back on when we’re trying to gasp for air.
Stone Maxey’s take on the meet was this: “ I think that it was good except for the mask portion because you have to put your cap and goggles on; your mask would be under so it would be hard to take it off. After you race you would have to put it back on, it’s already hard for you to breathe so it would be twice as hard. The locker rooms were a reasonable rule because you don’t want that many people in the locker room at the same time and the rotation of the swim meet went well too. I do think that they will have sanctioned meets in the next month or so because we might have more meets before then and if it goes smoothly, meets will be sanctioned.”
According to Tara Maxey, a USA Swimming Official, “ I completely enjoyed the meet. The meet was a little hectic because of the new procedures. Managing the face masks was challenging for the swimmers. I would recommend that swimmers be given a little more time to take their face masks off when they reached the blocks. I think we will have sanctioned meets again. Most of the swimmers followed the rules. The coaches and volunteers now also know the expectations. Overall, I think the meet was a success. It shows that swimming is a sport that can continue to practice and be able to compete during the pandemic.”
To Stink or Not to Stink That is the Question
As we all know we have adapted to the new pandemic PE. It has taken an effect on both students and teachers. The big debate is student’s opinions on whether or not they should be able to change out for PE, and how this has taken effect on the PE coaches specifically Mr.Weigel.
The opinions on changing out for PE are very diverse. According to an Instagram poll, 55% of students said that they liked changing out, 45% said they did not prefer changing out for PE. Mr. Weigel on the other hand agrees with the no-change out policy to ensure we keep students safe and healthy.
“Due to small locker rooms, it is difficult to maintain social distancing with no supervision,” said Mr. Weigel.
NCLA students proceed on to say “Not good, we are already having to wear a mask, and wearing our school uniform just makes it more uncomfortable,” Moser said.
“I think since we are doing things that get us sweaty, we should be able to dress out” Shoemaker stated. Other students say “It gives us more time to do fun PE activities, rather than wasting time changing out” Gonzalez stated. As we can see the opinions are very assorted.
The new rules and regulations take a toll on the gym teachers as well. “They definitely affect our ability to do conditioning with students due to the mask and following the guideline of not getting the student’s heart rate up”, said Mr.Weigel. “I understand the policies of not changing out for the respect of safety and smaller locker rooms” Stated Coach Weigel. Although it is harder to plan workouts according to pandemic guidelines the teachers seem flexible and understanding, we are so lucky to have such awesome teachers here at the NCLA.
When asked about the gyms in the area being opened and it possibly affecting our gym class, Weigel replied “No, because the school has different policies rather than a private gym. As far as we know this will not affect our school currently but could it in the future that is unclear.”
As NCLA is altering classes due to the pandemic it can be hard on both teachers and students. As the policies and guidelines are forcing students to wear masks and uniforms and teachers to modify their lesson plans it can be difficult. It is also important to better understand that this pandemic is a challenging obstacle to work around.
COVID-19 making history in MLB
As the global pandemic kept increasing its spread to all of the world causing companies, restaurants, schools, etc. to shut down, the pandemic finally reached the point where the place most people escape to get a break from stress, which is sports has finally shut down.
As Major League baseball was about to kick off on Mar. 12, the decision was made and announced that the MLB 2020 spring training games had been cancelled and the start of the regular season had been pushed back for two weeks, meaning that opening day would not be on Mar. 26.
On March 16,2020 MLB announced that the regular season would now be pushed back to at least the middle of may. As the year continues COVID-19 is causing many games, camps, etc. to be delayed,and the MLB association is doing everything in its power to have a 2020 season.
in order for there to be a 2020 regular season and playoffs there has to be changes to the rules to make it safe. There are many new rules set for the 2020 season.
Managers and players are expected to keep a six-foot distance between all umpires and the opposite team at all times if possible. Any player or manager that addresses the opposing team or umpires and comes within six-feet to argue or engage, will be immediately ejected from the game and punished, but there will also be a fine to pay and a suspension.
Pitchers are required to have their own personal wet rag, to add moisturizer to the ball, inplace of the licking fingers. The rag must stay inside the dugout, and should not be taken out to the rubber. Nothing but water should be used on the wet rag.
For the first time in history the National League games will now use a designated hitter.
There is only a minimum of 26 players on the roster. Due to the limited amount of players on the rosters any player may appear as a pitcher. NO spitting is allowed (including NO sunflower seeds, or chewing gum).
At every team’s ball parks there must be additional space for dugouts and bull pins provided. Players are encouraged to distance themselves from the runners when there is a ball out of play. First and third basemen coaches are required to stay in or behind the coach’s box, at any time a coach should never approach the opposing team, baserunners, or umpires on the field.
Players on the opposing teams are permitted from socializing with other players on the opposing team at all times. Line-up exchanges at the beginning of the game will not happen, line ups will be posted through the MLB mobile application. Each team will be limited to 60 games in their regular season. When a doubleheader takes place and the active roster is 26 players, both teams will be allowed to pick one additional player.
Each team is required to have 3 additional taxi squad players, meaning that these players will travel with the team but when it comes to game time they will not be in the dugout, nor be in uniform. These players are required to practice with the team but at a different training site. Every other day MLB players are required to get tested. Face coverings are required in dugouts and offices. Lastly, no fans will be allowed in the stands.
As many rules have been placed to have a 2020 regular season, on Jul. 23, MLB held the opening day with two teams playing July 23, and the other teams playing the Jul. 24, and planning to end the regular season in Sept.
Outfielder and designated hitter for the New York Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton, was asked to express his words on the delay of opening day.
“The most important thing right now is just the safety and health of everyone all across the whole world, not just here. To be honest, this has been in my head pretty much all the time the past several weeks. The team and organization are talking about how to prevent the sickness, and when you turn on the TV, it’s usually something about the coronavirus, especially in the sports world with all these games and seasons shutting down. So it’s been on my mind a lot,” said Stanton.
NBA Bubble was a Success
Usually Oct. is the beginning of the NBA season. Pre-season games are beginning to take place and teams are preparing for the 82 game regular season. However this year, the NBA finals will be starting in Oct. as the longest season in NBA history will finally come to a close.
After the Denver Nuggets game seven upset win over the Los Angeles Clippers on tuesday night, there are only four teams remaining. Yet, before we can talk about this, we have to go back six months before the season is postponed.
Mar. 11: Utah Jazz vs. Oklahoma City Thunder – Seconds before tip off, in front of a large Thunder home crowd, officials gathered at mid court. The discussion took place for a few minutes before both teams were sent back to the locker room and fans were told to go home.
“The game tonight has been postponed… Take your time leaving the arena tonight, thank you for coming out.” Said the OKC public address announcer, as boo’s rained down from the crowd.
This was the first of two games that would be postponed on that Wednesday night. The reason being that Rudy Gobert, the Jazz center had tested positive for Covid-19 and out of an abundance of caution the league decided to cancel play.
Each day it seemed like new cases would pop up from players on each team, and the season looked like it was in jeopardy. It wasn’t until early June when Adam Silver, the NBA’s current commissioner, proposed a plan for a bubble location. The idea suggested that teams who were still in the playoff hunt would collect at one location to finish off a modified regular season, and postseason. The location, Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Fast forward to late July, and 22 teams were in Florida ready to resume the season. 10 teams from the east, and 12 teams from the West were competing for seeding in the NBA playoffs.
July 30: The first “Bubble” game was finally underway between the New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz. It went as smoothly as any other game this season, with coaches and players sitting six feet a part and masked up while on the bench. That same night Lebron led the Lakers past Kawhi and the LA Clippers. Again, this game also was played without a single problem and it was looking like basketball was going to be a success.
Jordan Crawford, a shooting guard for the New Orleans Pelicans said life in the bubble felt like his highschool days. “I don’t feel it’s hard at all. (It’s like) an AAU tournament.”
August 15: With the regular season complete and seeding finalized, the playoffs were ready to begin. The first game was actually a play in game to decide who would play the Lakers in the first round of the western conference. The Grizzlies, led by Jah Morant, played the red hot Portland Trailblazers. It was a very close game throughout, but Damian Lillard had the last laugh, scoring 31 and earning the 8th seed with a 126 – 122 victory.
Eastern conference 1st round results:
Bucks 4 – 1 Magic
Raptors 4 – 0 Nets
Celtics 4 – 1 76’ers
Heat 4 – 0 pacers
Western conference 1st results:
Lakers 4 – 1 Trailblazers
Clippers 4 – 2 Mavericks
Nuggets 4 – 3 Jazz
Rockets 4 – 3 Thunder
Each series for the first round of the playoffs went as most people predicted. All #1 and #2 seeds moved on for both the East and Western conferences. There were no major upsets. The western conference did have two long seven game series,with the Nuggets coming back from being down three games to one.
Eastern Conference 2nd round:
Heat 4 – 1 Bucks
Celtics 4 – 3 Raptors
Western Conference 2nd round:
Lakers 4 – 1 Rockets
Nuggets 4 – 3 Clippers
The second round was the excitement fans wanted. The eastern conference lost both the number one and number two seeded Bucks and Raptors. The favorite for many, Milwaukee was unable to stop the Heat’s Jimmy Butler. Butler led the series in scoring, while Giannis suffered an injury in game foue, and Kris Middleton struggled.
The raptors the second seed out of the west also fell to a hot celtics team. Jason Tatum has played great in the bubble as the Celtics look like they are heading toward a finals run.
As for the West, the Rockets took game one over the Lakers, but “Playoff Lebron” was not going to have it. James and Davis both had a great series, with Lebron averaging just under a triple double. For the Rockets, life wasn’t easy. Russell Westbrook struggled to score, and had problems with turning the ball over. Harden, the league’s leading scorer, was unable to produce enough for the Rockets to get by the Lakers.
In probably the best series so far, the Nuggets came back from down 3-1 to upset the Clippers on Tuesday night. Jamal Murrary seemed unguardable to a team that has 3 former NBA defensive players of the year. Kahwi Leonard seemed to have no help all series, as Paul George played well worse than his all star and NBA all first team status. It all came down to a game seven however. The last chance for the Clippers to clinch a western conference finals (for the first time ever). This was not the case, as Murray went off with 40 points blowing out the western conference favorites. The Nuggets became the first team ever to come back from being down 3-1 in two series in the same year.
After the game Jokic told ESPN, “Nobody wants us here… we’re like dogs, we fight, we have everything we need.”
Now it’s set. Only four teams remain as each conference holds their championships to decide the representative that will play in the finals. Personally, I have been watching NBA games all year, and have at least watched one bubble game every night.
To me, the Miami Heat seem red hot and full of confidence. They showed last season that they are able to score against the best defensive player in the league (Giannis), and also shut down a monstrous big man (also Giannis). As for offensive efficiency, Butler has been scoring every way possible, and Bam Adebeyo seems like the best big man in the world right now. Though the Celtics aren’t going to be easy. Tatum has played nearly perfect in the bubble as well as Kemba Walker. I do think that Boston has enough scoring to stay with the Heat but defensively I don’t believe they will hang.
My prediction: Heat 4 – 2 Celtics
I think the Lakers versus Nuggets will be the series to watch however. Lebron even at age 35 doesn’t seem like he will ever play bad in the playoffs. Coupled with an All Star center in Davis, the Lakers are also scoring with ease. The only problem the Lakers are facing right now is the inconsistent shooting from Danny Green Kyle Kuzma. If these two guards get hot, the series may be a sweep. As for the nuggets, Jamal Murray may be the best player in elimination games. His ability to get buckets whenever they need one is a scary sight for Laker fans. Nikolo Jokic has also had his best games of the season in the bubble, which makes the center on center matchup even more interesting between him and Davis.
My Prediction: Lakers 4 – 2 Nuggets
By early October we will have our two Finals teams. If my predictions are correct then it would be the Heat against the Lakers. If this is the matchup that goes down then I think this may be a really good series. These two teams matchup very nicely with each other. Each team has All Star big men, in Davis and Adebayo, as well as elite perimeter shooting.
This will be a long series to say the least, but I see the Lakers bringing home the Larry O’brien trophy. If this happens this would be Lebron’s third Championship, and he could also be the first person to win finals MVP for three different teams.My prediction: Lakers 4 – 3 Heat