SARASOTA, Fla. (WCTV/WWSB) - The Florida High School Athletic Association met Friday morning and the Board of Directors voted to start fall sports on Aug. 24, with an option to opt out of competing by Sept. 18.
It’s up to each school district on when they would rather start. Next Monday’s date is the earliest teams can begin practicing during the pandemic, and they will, of course, have to incorporate safety measures following CDC guidelines. Sarasota County is going to start its fall sports practice on August 24th.
“We haven’t been in school for a long time, so I also thought it was important for us to get back. We have been doing work outs, but this will give it a bit of normalcy, and a chance for them to get back to doing what they love. We’re obviously going to do things as safe and as healthy as we can, but I do think it’s also good to get these things going prior to our school opening here on August 31st,” explained James Slaton, Sarasota County’s Athletic Director.
Meanwhile, in Manatee County, the start of sports is still up in the air.
“If we don’t start at that time, I would happy to have any kind of season for our kids. I think youth sports are so important. There’s a lot of unintended consequences that happen if we shut things like this down that we don’t really think about or foresee, and it could be a big impact in other ways,” expressed Matt McElhiny, the Volleyball Coach at Braden River High School.
Doctors are urging school officials to keep in mind that although the final vote was in favor of fall sports to begin, the sports medicine advisory committee recommended to not start practices until it could get feedback on how things went once students were back on campus for a few weeks.
“We are in another tough situation here. I thought we learned a lesson that reopening too fast, too quickly, too extensively, has dire consequences, but it seems like we’re trying to go back on the same track,” said Dr. Marissa Levine, Public Health & Medicine Professor at the University of South Florida.
Manatee County is expected to make their decision by tomorrow, and games will be scheduled once all school districts in the region finalize their plans by September 18th.
The vote was 11 to 5 in favor of the measure. The Aug. 24 date is the earliest date teams can start practicing. The FHSAA Board of Directors also added districts can design regional calendars to permit play outside of the approved sport season calendar.
The board discussed a total of three options for fall sports.
The other options involved delays until October or November.
The board spent Friday morning discussing the impact high school sports has on the students and districts and just how viable it would be to start the fall sports seasons as planned. The FHSAA fall sports include football, cross country, golf, swimming and diving, and volleyball.