The Mississippi High School Activities Association’s executive committee voted Tuesday to push the start of fall football practice to Aug. 17, two weeks later than the original date of Aug. 3.
The other three fall sports – swimming, volleyball and cross country – are now set to begin on Aug. 10.
“The executive committee took a great deal of care into this decision and we feel it’s what’s best for our students at this time,” MHSAA Executive Director Don Hinton said. “We have been back and forth on the issue and heard many different ideas. I commend the committee for taking it all under consideration and ultimately making a responsible decision.”
Hinton added that the delay would allow students to settle back into the routine of school without plunging straight into sports, which could exacerbate any potential outbreaks among students returning to school from the extended summer break.
The move will eliminate two weeks of non-region football games originally scheduled for Aug. 21 and Aug. 28, but will allow the MHSAA to keep intact its playoff and championship dates for all its fall sports.
Tuesday’s vote came after a lengthy discussion about the merits of starting the season on the normal schedule versus pushing the season back due to the threat of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. There was no discussion of scrapping fall sports altogether.
Questions still remain about what coaches and administrators will do in the event a student athlete tests positive. Hinton said the MHSAA would issue further guidelines to coaches and administrators after consulting with state health experts.
Hinton said those guidelines would be contingent upon what school guidelines would be for any student who shows symptoms of, or tests positive for, the virus.
“Athletics are kind of in that same boat with the other aspects of the schools,” he said. “If a kid in a classroom or on a bus comes down with the virus, do you quarantine just that student, or the whole class? These are the kinds of questions we’re going to have to answer in the next month.”
In the meantime, MHSAA staff and members of the executive committee plan to continue to monitor the situation regarding the spread of the virus. Hinton said the board would not hesitate to reconvene and adjust its strategy if the situation changes.
(Feature photo by Keith Warren)