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High school basketball: GHSA makes extensive requirements for upcoming basketball season to combat coronavirus
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North Hall's Luke Volle attempts to dribble past Cherokee Bluff's Carlos Marlowe during the game on Friday, Jan. 31 at North Hall High School. - photo by Nathan Berg

While statewide numbers of coronavirus cases continue to trend downward, the Georgia High School Association on Monday released guidelines for the upcoming basketball season that put every emphasis on social distancing and eliminating avoidable physical contact. 

The guidelines were released by Ernie Yarbrough, the assistant executive director of the state’s governing body for high school athletics. 

The most peculiar of the regulations, which was buried at the very bottom of the outline, was the elimination of the jump ball to start the game. Visiting teams will start the game with possession. If the game goes into overtime, a coin flip will be used to determine possession.

In Georgia, teeenagers are the least-susceptible to dying from COVID-19, even if they test positive for the virus. 

Statewide, only 13 people under age 25 have died with coronavirus. Among that group, more than half had underlying health conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Still, the GHSA is leaving nothing to chance. Other preventative measures that will go into effect this season for basketball include no pre-game or post-game handshakes, limiting bench personnel during the game to comply with six feet of room between each person and sanitizing of basketballs being used during timeouts. 

Host schools are in charge of sanitizing scorers tables before the game and during halftime. Officials tables are also required to be far enough from the sideline to allow room for substitute players to not all be bunched together. 

The email suggests that team benches should be on the opposite side of spectators seating, if possible. 

“I think we all want to make everyone feel as safe as possible during these times,” Cherokee Bluff boys basketball coach Benjie Wood said. “Our kids deserve a chance to play, so we will do whatever we need to do for our kids to have the chance to play.”

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