Volume 3, Issue 1 | September 4, 2020
The Return of the Rally
We're back! The Friday Morning Rally is pleased have returned in time for another year. Though the coming months promise to be unique, we join all of you in forging ahead: face masks firmly in place, socially distanced from our loyal readers across the internet and ready to bring you all the latest news and information from across the world of youth and high school sports. And while the novel coronavirus will likely continue its domination of the headlines, we also understand that everyone needs a break from the topic. We'll also do our best to bring you key stories and non-COVID headlines to help coaches, administrators and parents lead young athletes well beyond the pandemic. So here's to all of you who are working hard to provide a great experience for children in the midst of everything. Thanks for all that you continue to do for our children and we look forward to seeing you each Friday in this space.

Sports & COVID-19: Interesting Notes

As expected, the status of youth and high school sports continues to vary dramatically depending on location and organization. The NFHS provides a convenient tracking of state high school modifications; at the youth level it's safe to say that most club sports continue to move forward while most city (parks & recreation) and diocesan-run leagues are currently postponed. Pennsylvania provides an interesting case-study of this dichotomy at the high school level, as the state announced it would allow fall sports to continue, but has had more than 15% of schools (including many in Philadelphia) opt-out in search of "alternate solutions" to fall seasons. For those who are playing or even just practicing, coaches are learning a new way of life, though most are more than happy to modify practices if it means staying on the field.

As it has for months now, the conversation in sports is all about safety. As experts and industry leaders weigh the risk of illness against the benefits that sports provide even in a pandemic, doctors continue to emphasize the importance of returning to play gradually in order to reduce injury risk. In addition, adults must continue to prioritize the mental health of young athletes both playing and still waiting to return, as dealing with anxiety and stress is critical in the current environment. It's also worth noting that for many athletes, dramatic changes to the sports calendar will force difficult decisions about which sport to play. It's important that we all continue to do our part to communicate with athletes, listen to their concerns, and make decisions with their physical, mental and spiritual health in mind.

Now on to the other headlines this week...
Will COVID-19 Send Youth Sports Back to "The Sandlot"?
Tournaments have returned to the youth sports landscape in full force over the past two months. This journalist went to see what it was like to attend one of these events in a pandemic and came away wondering if we're approaching a breaking point that's being highlighted by the current situation.
NGBs Consider Required Coach Training, Other Reforms
The Aspen Institute last week sponsored the latest in its series of webinars highlighting changes needed across youth sports. Perhaps the most discussed topic was a broad requirement for youth coach training across the National Governing Bodies that oversee many sports. The panel noted that "it's time" to require that coaches who are trusted with developing young athletes are properly trained.
Coaches Should Support Sharing Student-Athletes
For many children, being involved in multiple activities can be a headache thanks to coaches and instructors who have little time for the conflicts that arise when schedules overlap. Instead, coaches should encourage the well-rounded development of young athletes by working with them and supporting their other endeavors. We liked this commentary on the topic from the NFHS.
State of Illinois Adopts Hate Speech Policy
The Illinois High School Association has adopted a new policy regarding hate speech, hoping to establish a zero-tolerance environment that will now result in immediate ejection. Look for more schools, conferences and states to adopt similar policies in the near future.
Athletes Unlimited is a New Model for a Traditional Sport
When Athletes Unlimited launched last week, it marked a unique approach to a traditional sport. While it's still softball at heart, the professional league features innovative scoring, roster construction, and a lack of coaches. It's an experiment worth monitoring for both it's popularity with players and fans.
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The Quotable Coach
"Don't let the sum total of your existence be eight to 10 pounds of air."

~ John Thompson
A Hall of Fame Basketball Coach who spent 27 years as the Head Coach at Georgetown, Thompson died this week at the age of 78. His quote above refers to the weight of an inflated basketball, as he expected athletes to aspire to more than just success on the floor.
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