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Most Fall Sports in Waiting Mode

(by Don Meador, The Citizen-Times, July 16, 2020) 

   Student athletes from Allen County-Scottsville and across the Commonwealth received a measure of reassuring news last Friday following a meeting of the Board of Control for the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA),

   “We’re playing this fall,” was the words of KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett. “We’re going to participate in athletics and activities this fall. We don’t know what it’s going to look like, but we’re going to. We are hopeful that 2019 and 2021 look alike. But 2020's not going to look like anything we've seen."

   Tackett did note that the ability to have fall sports may also rest in the public wiliness to take preventive measures to curb the spread. 

   “If our state wants high school sports, we’re going to have to follow the CDC guidelines on masking, on distancing, on handwashing - that’s it,” Tackeitt stressed. “You’re making a choice.”

   Despite the hope of fall sports, last week’s meeting of the governing body for high school athletics did take action that puts a hold on full scale practice for fall sports, with one exception.

   “We’re at a point that we have to address the period that starts Monday (July 15). Tackett explained last Friday. “It does not appear wise for us to take any steps to allow more activity that is currently going on. That’s uncomfortable cause people don’t want to hear that, but our data simply doesn’t support it.”

   Under current KHSAA guidelines, organized team activities in football, volleyball, cross country, cheer, field hockey, cross country, and dance, are limited to small group engaged in outdoor conditioning or workout activities. For example, a football team cannot practice with the entire team as is typically done starting in mid-July. That limitation has now been extended three weeks.

   “July 15 just became August 3,” Tackett said. 

   Tackett also reminded the Board that the governor’s youth sports guidelines still is in effect.

   “An important distinction in the original governor youth sports order: there is no ending date. …” Tackett noted referring to the guidance from Gov. Andy Beshear that allowed baseball, softball, golf and other “low touch” sports to begin play last month but still prohibits games for others, including football, soccer and basketball. “So, basically, until we see what’s going on with this (pandemic), develop alternative plans, etc., those restrictions remain in place. It’s not our decision.”

   Hence, for now, the KHSAA has voted to extend current guidelines. Teams are prohibited from game-like or scrimmage conditions and activities are limited to groups of 10 socially distanced players.

   The lone exception is golf.

   “With minimal effort, the social distancing (in golf) can work,” Tackett added. “The nature of that game allows people to socially distance.”

   Official golf tryouts and practice can start this week and teams will be permitted to start their season as scheduled, as early as July 31 for some schools.

   For AC-S’s additional fall sports, the wait remains for official practice to commence. The practice push back brings into question as to whether fall sports will start as scheduled. For ACS volleyball, the first game is scheduled for August 17. Patriot football is slated to begin on August 21.

   First year volleyball coach Cameron Cook is now anticipating a delay to start the year.

   “I think that we will play this fall but the schedule may be pushed back a little,” Cook said. “We are training as if we are preparing for our first scrimmage which is August 11. I think that the KHSAA has done a great job of being patient and being smart with this decision. I think that will give us the best shot to be able to play in August.”

   Patriot football coach Brad Hood sees an August kickoff as theoretically possible.

   “I think it can but not sure if it will,” Hood said. “I believe that we could have this football team ready to go in three weeks’ time if proper practices could take place. But if we must do helmets for five days, then uppers for three-five days before we could go full gear then it will be hard.”

   Cook feels like his squad could still be ready to play rather quickly once a go ahead is received.

   “I honestly believe that two to three weeks is enough for us to get situated with our offense and get an idea of what rotation suits us best,” Cook noted. “Our girls are getting in good game shape through our skill development sessions that we are getting to have. Once we get the greenlight to have more team-oriented drills, that is when the ball will really get going on what we want to do when matches start.”

   Hood does admit the delay will probably result in the loss of a scrimmage in early August.  

   “Our first scrimmage which was going to be on August 7 looks to be out,” Hood admitted, adding that other issues then come into play. “We still have no clue if we can get our second which was supposed to be on August 13.  So from the outside looking in it doesn’t look good to start on the 21st verses Larue.  Now will they keep things the same and just push things back? Who knows but that could bring on a ton of nightmares later on with fall break and district and games that might already be cancelled for out of state opponents? Do you just cancel the games up until start time, that might make the most sense But it shortens the season.  So really we don’t know.  I just hope and pray these boys get a chance at some point to show what we have.  I am grateful though that they didn’t cancel or suspend anything yet, they just pushed back the start time.  People want fall sports to happen”

   Tackett briefly address additional cornavirus issues that could come into play including attendance at games and events. Earlier last week while speaking to school superintendents, Tackett explained that the KHSAA is looking at a 50% capacity limit and incorporating six feet of social distancing, for events.

   "In all likelihood, I think we realize attendance is going to be limited at high school events, at least for the foreseeable future,"  Tackett said.

   A greater concern....and one yet to be specifically addressed is what happens if a team has a student-athlete or coach who tests positive forcing a two-week quarantine for those in contact with the positive case. Games might have to be canceled which, given the timing, could conceivably cost a team post season play.

   “We start a season, we play along and a team has to quarantine for two weeks prior to the district tournament, they may be out of postseason, “Tackett admitted. “That may just be the way this virus works. We might not be able to fix everything. And I think that’s a very real possibility.”

   During Tackett’s discussion last week with Kentucky school superintendents, Dr. Connie White, assistant commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) explained guidance on what happens if any student-athlete is suspected of having the virus. Among her remarks was the note that “If a student-athlete is sent home with a temperature (above 100.4 degrees), they have to be without a fever or other possible COVID-19 symptoms for 72 hours before returning to any type of school activity, including sports. If a student is in quarantine due to a positive COVID-19 test, any siblings living with them likewise would be quarantined and hence barred from school attendance or athletic practice for the quarantine period.”

   In anticipation of limited attendance this fall at events, Tackett explained that school districts can each get two free cameras for livestreaming sporting events. The cameras are worth $5,000 and would cost districts about $2,500 to set up, he said.

   In last week’s superintendents’ call, Tackett also shared information about concession stands and ticket sales. Concession stands will be expected to sell only prepackaged food, with no on-site food prep. Districts are also encouraged to start looking at “smartphone-based online ticketing”  instead of handling cash.

   The KHSAA is expected to meet around July 28 to address the issue further and offer additional guidance. 

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570 Oliver Street, Scottsville, KY
Phone: (270) 618-3181
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