High school sports in the Peach State will move forward with football's opening games delayed until September following a meeting of the Georgia High School Association's Board of Trustees Monday in …
High school sports in the Peach State will move forward with football's opening games delayed until September following a meeting of the Georgia High School Association's Board of Trustees Monday in Thomaston.
The board unanimously passed a resolution to postpone the start of the high school football season two weeks, while opting not to adjust the calendars for other fall sports. The decisive vote came after an initial proposal to maintain the current schedule for all GHSA activities failed by an 8-4 margin.
According to the minutes from Monday's meeting posted to the GHSA website, Fulton County athletic director Steven Craft first broached the topic of pushing the schedule back two weeks. That's notable, because Craft, whose district is one of several to announce an online-only model to start the school year, tweeted the following Saturday morning:
"Please understand that Monday’s meeting will be a discussion on how best to move forward with athletics. There will not be any votes to cancel or approve modified schedules. We understand that everyone is nervous about the fall. The BOT and the state office wants to play!"
Monday's decision comes as a growing number of school districts across Georgia choose to begin the fall semester with remote learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gwinnett County — the state's largest district — announced Monday it will follow the lead of others in adopting an exclusively online start to the school year.
Atlanta Public Schools will also open the year with distanced learning. During Monday's board meeting, APS athletic director Jasper Jewell noted that without pushing football back two weeks, his system might become "the first district to cancel fall sports completely."
Even after Monday's meeting, plenty of questions remain about the ramifications on the high school football season, which was scheduled to begin Aug. 21. In the short term, it's unknown if scrimmages will still be allowed to take place against other teams in the lead up to the opening set of games the week of Sept. 4.
GHSA President Glenn White stated "there would still be a 10-game regular season followed by five rounds of playoffs in football." It's unknown if the governing body plans to push back the state championships, which are currently set for Dec. 10-12 at Georgia State Stadium in Atlanta.
If the title games aren't moved, teams would be forced to play 15 consecutive weeks in hopes of reaching the state finals. It's unknown what adjustments programs potentially would have to make to their schedules to accommodate the loss of two open dates.
To reiterate, despite the postponing of football, the remaining fall sports — cheerleading, cross country, softball and volleyball — were not impacted by Monday's vote. Those activities still can begin official fall practices Aug. 1 as originally scheduled with the first date competitions are allowed ranging from Aug. 6-10.
That being said, entire school systems or individual programs could decide to delay the start of their seasons for those sports.
It's also possible local decisions will need to be made in regards to regulations pertaining to fan attendance. Although, the GHSA's Sports Medicine Advisory Council probably will release a set of recommendations in the coming weeks.
While Monday's meeting could seem like a step in the wrong direction for those wanting sports (and life, in general) to return to normal, the GHSA did decide to maintain the sports calendar for most of its activities. And for high school football coaches, who finally got to see their players in helmets Monday, they likely will appreciate the governing body announcing the acclimation period can commence July 27, as previously scheduled.