While Governor Murphy Friday signed an executive order allowing limited fans to attend indoor and outdoor high school sporting events – effective immediately – what does it mean for other Spring sports?
Murphy says he could see restrictions being loosened when it comes time to take the diamond, and play other outdoor sports in a few months.
How much, and how soon, is unknown.
“You look at what’s happening right now, you add to that warmer weather, vaccines in more supply. The virus is still real outdoors, but it’s a lot less lethal outdoors than indoors,” Murphy said today when asked about Spring sports by Central Jersey Sports Radio.
“That combination,” Muprhy added, “would lead me to be pretty optimistic about having some amount of increased capacity for outdoor Spring sports.”
That still leaves things up in the air for wrestling. Generally an indoor sport, there has been a rise in outdoor wrestling events, especially with the success of other traditionally-indoor sports being played outside, such as the NHL’s Winter Classic, which has in recent years been expanded to a series of games played outdoors in large stadiums. And with wrestling season taking place this year from March 16 to April 24, when the weather will be a bit warmer, some high schools are planning on giving it a shot.
At the local high school level, St. Joseph-Metuchen Athletic Director Mike Murray says the Falcons will host Paramus Catholic in wrestling on the turf at Brenner Family Field.
Rutgers has participated in some outdoor wrestling events in recent years, hosting one in 2016 against Princeton at then-High Point Solutions Stadium before a football game later in the day. The event was dubbed “Battle at the Birthplace,” a reference to Rutgers being the birthplace of college football.
Bergen Catholic and Delbarton announced in December they plan to wrestle outdoors. That would also be on April 10th, according to a December story on NJ.com. The article said it would be New Jersey’s first-ever wrestling meet to be held outdoors during the season. The St. Joe’s meet would be the same day.
Last summer, with COVID-19 restrictions in place, baseball fields around the state hosted the Last Dance baseball tournament, meant to be a replacement for the Spring high school sports season, which was cancelled by the NJSIAA last season due to the pandemic.
And this past fall, up to 1,500 fans were allowed at high school football games in New Jersey.
In the Garden State, few baseball or softball facilities can accommodate such crowds anyway, though a few, like Jersey City’s Cochrane Stadium at Caven Point can. It’s a multi-sport facility that can host baseball, football and soccer on the same field. Capacity is 4,000.