A clear priority

Published 5:49 pm Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The end of the fall athletics season is rapidly coming to a close. Hurricane Matthew and the flooding it brought to Beaufort County and surrounding areas forced students and faculty out of school for much of last week, making a mess of sports schedules in the process.

That’s not the top priority after the storms, though. Local athletic directors and officials at the North Carolina High School Athletic Association have made it clear that the safety of players, coaches, fans and the like were and are of the utmost concern.

The NCHSAA extended the regular season for football and women’s tennis. For volleyball and soccer, the NCHSAA maintained the original championship dates by lifting the weekly limitation on how many games a team can play for areas affected by the flooding.

The extension of the football season was important because of the physical nature of the sport. Compressing the schedule, especially with all the fatigue that’s built up throughout the season, would be dangerous for the student-athletes.

Moreover, it also allowed Washington to further postpone its home game with Southwest Edgecombe. The Cougars and all of Edgecombe County were hit hard by flooding, and it allows them to focus on community recovery instead of cramming in a football game.

Local volleyball and soccer teams need to take every measure to stay healthy, while still getting the remainder of their conference games in before the reporting deadline. Each Beaufort County volleyball team has just about wrapped up the season, but should still find a balance between resting and preparing for the postseason.

Washington, Northside and Southside have all shown plenty of promise in volleyball this season. Each has what it takes to make some noise in the postseason, but injuries could derail that. The same goes for the Pam Pack and Seahawks soccer teams.

Sports can bring communities together, especially after disasters like Hurricane Matthew. Even so, the focus should first be on safety and recovery, then making sure the hard-working student-athletes get back out to compete under the Beaufort County banner.