Dover's Lake Lindale makes a basket against Milford in a Unified Basketball game

Dover's Lake Lindale makes a basket against Milford in a Unified Basketball game

Delaware's high school sports are scheduled to begin practices on Monday, November 30, but a cloud of uncertainty surrounds many of their futures.

Basketball, wrestling, indoor track, and swimming/diving compete in the winter in Delaware, but two of them are struggling to find homes, while two others have the attention of Delaware Governor John Carney and public health officials.

Carney was asked at his weekly coronavirus press conference if increasing indoor restrictions means indoor sport seasons could be on the chopping block.

"I have big concerns about that. It's mainly because we know that indoor activities are so much riskier than outdoor activities."

In other northeastern states, indoor sports have had their seasons, or rules, adjusted.

New York has placed all of its winter sports on hold, while New Hampshire and New Jersey have moved most of their practice starts until January. Massachusetts has moved wrestling and indoor track into the spring, while Pennsylvania is currently implementing mask restrictions similar to Delaware's.

Delaware Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay has helped oversee sport modifications with the Division of Public Health, and she is scheduled to have a meeting with Dr. Joseph Straight of the DIAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee on Tuesday evening.

"We are having discussions about this. I will say that with DIAA and high school sports it has gone very smoothly this fall and I'm impressed on how schools have been able to handle the implementation of the guidance. Mask wearing for these athletes has been nothing, they have done it without complaints, and they have done it well."

While the fall has been fine, like Governor Carney, she said she's still concerned about the upcoming months.

But indoor sports, especially wrestling and basketball, are such close contact that there are multiple risks that we don't have with outdoor sports, right now. We are thinking about it, we are trying our best to understand the risks, and if they go forward, how to best mitigate the risks."

Carney said that ultimately his concerns are less with the athletes competing, but what happens when they're not on the field of play, and who is watching them.

"Who hasn't adjusted are fans, spectators, and off-the-field activities. On-the-field activity seems fine, I've been to a couple football games myself, but activities on the bench, I've seen a few coaches having to make sure the players are separate. It's the same outside of athletics. In structured environments, in schools, teachers and staff are in pretty good shape, it's the coming and going and at homes."

It is notable that Carney said he had concerns about football, but ultimately the sport was allowed to proceed.

While basketball and wrestling have concerns for safety, the other two sports, swimming/diving and indoor track simply need to find homes.

Several Delaware high schools have been unable to secure home pools after Delaware's YMCAs rejected their rentals. In addition, the state meet is traditional held at the University of Delaware's natatorium at the Carpenter Sports Building, and UD is not currently welcoming outdoor groups onto campus.

As for indoor track, Delaware's mandatory 14-day quarantine for athletes competing in a multi-team tournament or event out-of-state would make that sport impossible.

The DIAA Indoor Track Meet has been held in Landover, Maryland at the Prince Georges Sports & Learning Complex, but it is hard to see where that would be allowed to happen unless the state's guidance changes.

The Brandywine School District announced last week that its high schools, Concord, Mount Pleasant, and Brandywine, will not compete in indoor track this winter.

Indoor sports are scheduled to begin practice on Monday, November 30, with competitions running from December 21 to February 25, and then the tournaments until March 13.

Spring sports are set to begin practice on March 1, there has been no major discussion about those sports, at this point.