Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Did the UIL overreact?
Was the University Interscholastic League sensible or overly sensitive in reaction to the swine flu pandemic?
Based on a recommendation from Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, UIL executive director Charles Breithaupt has suspended all competition for the next 12 days.
With 16 confirmed cases of swine flu in Texas, the UIL, the governing body of the state's public school extra-curricular activities, has suspended all activities against competing schools until May 11. I don't know what's so magical about May 11, but at least that's when the state golf and tennis tournaments begin.
If there's an imminent danger, shouldn't school districts step in and suspend school as well? How's a disease more likely to be spread, through students intermingling in close quarters throughout the day or through noncontact outdoor sports for two hours?
Perhaps the only reason for the suspension is athletes coming together from various parts of the state, but that is minimal. I applaud the UIL for having their concern of students, but think it may have overreacted.
The sport that is affected the most is track. The other spring sports have just their state tournametns left or, in the case of baseball and softball, simply waiting until May 11 to begin the playoffs. As for track, the UIL is backed into a corner or backed itself into a corner on the state meet, the biggest of its kind in the country. The regional meets, scheduled for this weekend, have been canceled.
So instead, the UIL is expanding the state meet by one day, from May 14-16, to include semifinals. Instead of regional meets, the UIL will advance the top four from each region based on district meet qualifying times.
That is unfair. What about those like miler Sann Allison of Canyon, whose 4:16.6 is one of the tops in the state? Allison had no competition at district and coasted to an easy win. Plus, he was saving himself for the 1600 relay, the next event. Because of that, he won't advance to Austin.
What about a sprinter who was winning easily and just coasted to make sure he won and now misses out? Or the long jumper who won with only one jump and decided not to take other attempts to save himself for other events and missed out? Or just plain bad weather?
It's almost logistically an impossibility to move the state meet to another weekend, but moving the five regional meets, all at different sites, is not nearly the obstacle. The better solution would be to have the regional meets May 11-12, the first day the ban is over. Schools would then have two days before the state meet on May 15-16.
Officials and athletes would have to regather themselves for two missed school days, but they would miss one anyway if it were this Friday and Saturday. And with only two days between meets, it's not ideal, but it's sure better than the original.
Ask those like Sann Allison who apparently will miss a berth in the state meet which scenario he would prefer. It's better than the current one.