By Jamie Belfer || Sports Editor
After months of waiting, planning, and indecision, on Friday, March 5th the Centennial Conference, at last, came to a decision as to the fate of the spring season. While many thought it was extremely unlikely that a season would be played, especially after the fall and winter sports were canceled, the unthinkable happened as the Conference agreed to go ahead with a shortened spring season.
The spring season will take place from March 20th to May 1st, making it yes, a sprint not a marathon. Eight out of the eleven Centennial Conference teams including F&M, Gettysburg, Johns Hopkins, Dickinson, McDaniel, Washington, Ursinus, and Muhlenberg opted to take part in this shortened season. Meanwhile, Haverford, Swarthmore, and Bryn Mawr followed suit with the Ivy Leagues and decided to not have intercollegiate competition in the spring.
The Centennial Conference is looking to release a spring schedule in the upcoming days. They have decided that all sports (softball, baseball, lacrosse, golf, tennis, track and field, and rowing) of one school will play the same opponent on the same weekend. For example, in one weekend, all F&M teams would play all Gettysburg teams, half hosted at F&M, and half would play at Gettysburg.
Of course, opting to play comes with health and safety concerns, but the Conference has put together an extensive 10-page document all teams are expected to agree to, review, and follow in regards to safety protocols. The document outlines many measures related to testing, mask-wearing, traveling, and more. These measures are more intensive than the NCAA requirements in order to keep players, coaches, and schools safe.
Many athletes worried about not having a championship to play for this season, yet the Conference has decided to still crown a Conference Champion. Yet, instead of having playoffs, the team with the best record at the end of the regular season will be named Conference Champions and receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
The opportunity to play and play for something meaningful is an exciting opportunity and most definitely something to celebrate, yet health and safety are still the conference’s top priority. One school’s season could be in jeopardy at the drop of a hat, as the Centennial Conference decided that if any school hits 1% COVID positivity, they will need to have a shutdown athletics for at least a 10-day quarantine period. Teams from this school would not be able to compete again until the rate falls below 1%. The season is voluntary for student-athletes, and competing schools may decide to opt-out at any time.
Only time will tell how smoothly, safely, and successfully the plan for conference play will be executed. But for now, it’s time to play ball.
Jamie Belfer is the sports editor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.