Frostburg State University opened its men’s and women’s basketball season last night on the road at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, West Virginia.

This is significant only because it is the first athletic event involving an area team since the end of the West Virginia high school football playoffs in late November.

Slowly, area athletics are beginning to return as they try to traverse the pandemic landscape.

The Bobcats are playing a Mountain East Conference-only schedule this season.

On the junior college level, based on NJCAA guidelines, practices for most sports began Monday. Others include men’s and women’s lacrosse on Friday, Jan. 15, football on March 1, beach volleyball on March 10 and men’s and women’s soccer on March 15.

The competition start dates for men’s and women’s basketball begins Wednesday, Jan. 20 as well for wrestling. Men’s and women’s lacrosse can begin play Sunday, Feb. 21 and men’s and women’s soccer starts on Thursday, April 1.

In basketball, Allegany College hosts Montgomery on Saturday, Jan. 23, Garrett College men will begin the day before on Friday, Jan. 22 at Chesapeake and Potomac State hosts Catonsville on Wednesday, Jan. 27.

The Allegany and Garrett women open on the same days against the same teams. Potomac State hosts Essex on Saturday, Jan. 23.

On the high school level, Bishop Walsh’s elite basketball team returns today (see preview) as it participates in the The St. James National Interscholastic Basketball Conference Invitational in Springfield, Virginia.

Calvary Christian Academy boys and girls basketball also tip off tonight at Faith Academy in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

Both BW and Calvary are private schools and therefore don’t follow the same guidelines that the public high schools do.

In Allegany and Garrett counties, the situations will be re-evaluated on Tuesday. In Garrett County, everything is virtual through January 26 with no sports or extra-curricular activities being held as well. No start-up dates have been determined.

In West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice announced last week that all winter sports would be halted until March 1.

Unknown and to be determined is if the March 1 date is the start of practice or the competition date.

That announcement has yet to be made, annoying the state’s athletic directors and coaches, especially after an online video emerged showing mostly maskless New Year’s Eve revelers in close quarters at The Greenbrier, the resort owned by Justice.

The “do as I say, not as I do” appearance is creating dissension between Justice’s administration and the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission’s governing body.

The raging pandemic, of course, is responsible for these delays, changes and cancellations.

As we’ve seen with college and professional football and basketball, adjusting and how to adjust is becoming the name of the game.

Ohio State and Alabama are scheduled to play for the national championship Monday evening, but virus concerns among the Buckeyes may force the game’s postponement.

In the NFL, Cleveland will play its first playoff game since 2002 Sunday night at Pittsburgh without its head coach, Kevin Stefanski, due to a positive COVID-19 test result. For now, the game is still on as scheduled.

Say this about the NFL, it is stubborn. It got all of its 256 games in by moving or rescheduling games throughout the season due to virus results, or making teams play games without key players or in the Detroit Lions case, most of its coaching staff. They lost, 47-7.

Denver had to use a practice-squad receiver at quarterback in a game against the New Orleans Saints because that position group was sidelined due to virus concerns. The Broncos lost, 31-3. The Browns lost to the New York Jets partly because all of their starting wide receivers didn’t test well the week before. Last week, the Saints’ running back unit had to sit out in a win at Carolina.

Fortunately, for the Browns and Saints, it didn’t cost them a playoff spot.

Speaking of the playoffs, this is the first time that Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Washington have all made the postseason at the same time.

Baltimore is in the postseason for the third year in a row. Pittsburgh last made it in 2017 and Washington 2015.

Jeff Landes is the sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @wvuramfan.

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