Photo: Andy Hilton/recruit757
The hope of confirming the return of high school sports is dashed, for now
by Andy Hilton, recruit757
Today was supposed to be the day when the VHSL would make a decision on reinstating high school sports. An affirmative vote would have most likely set a schedule for practices and would have confirmed a start date for the fall sports schedule.
Instead, a special meeting of the VHSL executive committee yielded a statement that no decision would be made.
Earlier in the week, Governor Ralph Northam announced that the Commonwealth of Virginia would enter Phase 3 of pandemic recovery on July 1. The new phase would allow for larger public gatherings and would add more capacity in restaurants and retailers.
The VHSL governs high school sports in Virginia’s public schools.
“The Virginia High School League staff is not bringing forth any recommendation for fall athletic schedules for this meeting,” said VHSL Executive Director Billy Haun. “We just don’t know exactly where we are going to be. We could continue on a very, very positive trend. We could be like some of the other states now that summer is here and beaches are opened and things are different and if people are outside venturing out and going places that it might go up. I think we can make a more informed decision. We will have more data in four weeks, eight weeks than what we have right now.”
The Twitter account of the VHSL telegraphed this announcement by stating it would be impossible to announce a fall sports schedule without further guidance from the state.
The Executive Committee cannot create a fall schedule or calendar until further guidelines are released. The health and safety of all student-athletes, along with financial considerations, will be some of the challenges discussed. We will keep you updated as we move forward.
— VHSL Athletics (@VHSL_) June 23, 2020
InsideNoVA shared news of Haun’s announcement early Thursday afternoon.
“I don’t understand how you can think about playing team sports while you are social distancing,” said Haun. “I don’t know how some school divisions can do social distancing, staggered schedules and think that there is not going to be an equity issue about who can get to practice every day if you do team sports.”
If the state is still in Phase 3 when the school year starts, there will have to be accommodations made in order for most sporting events to be held. Phase 3 limits gatherings to a maximum of 250 people. Football would be nearly impossible to play with fans in Phase 3.
“If we were to play in Phase 3 the 250 limit would include all of the participants,” Haun said. “That doesn’t leave very many options for paid spectators. I think one of the things we all have to acknowledge is that how much can we afford a full slate of athletic activities if we don’t have some of those gate receipts.”
The Executive Committee, primarily composed of school superintendents, principals and athletic directors, meets again in July and August and could make a decision on Fall Sports then.
“We’ve got eight weeks until Labor Day and that will help us with guidelines the governor imposes,” Haun said. “The VHSL is pushing for two things: the safety of our student athletes and as soon as possible, get them back on the field safely.”
– Andy Hilton