For now, high school sports is on for the fall
By Matt Harris
SALT LAKE CITY—The Utah High School Activities Association Board of Trustees cast their vote last Thursday, and for now, fall sports look to making a comeback.
In a press release, The UHSAA confirmed it voted to approve fall sports, including contact sports like football, for the beginning of the 2020-21 school year amid the coronavirus pandemic. The vote was unanimous, according to KSL Sports. The plan follows in conjunction with plans by the state to return to school this fall, although in a mixture of in-person and remote learning.
The Board plans to meet in three weeks to reevaluate their decision.
Executive director Robert Cuff told reporters after the meeting that parents and students can certainly still choose to opt out of high school sports. “Ninety-nine percent of the communication I had received in the last week had been from parents, educators, basically saying our kids are hurting,” Cuff told media. “They’re hurting mentally. They want to return back to the way it was as much as they can.”
While schools and their athletic programs have rejoiced across various social media platforms, there are numerous safeguards and policies that were published as recommendations by the UHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee. This plan was released as the “Return-To-Play” recommendations along with the press release.
The guidelines given by the committee follow a tiered response strategy according to risk phases in Utah, or in the various counties hosting events, with green being the least severe and red being the most severe.
The guidelines for attendance at athletic events, in green and yellow phases, primarily follows similar state rules, such as proper social distancing, hand sanitizer availability and wearing a face covering.
More prominent differences will occur at practices and in preparation for events by the athletes themselves. For example, the yellow phase will mandate a temperature and symptom check of each athlete before participation on a daily basis, as well as before stepping into a team bus or locker room.
The guidelines also say that in cases where some counties are orange and some are green/yellow, teams from those respective counties will not play each other.
Cuff continued to say that there “may be some stop and go” as the fall sports season progresses, but he reiterated that the Board is listening to the call for help from parents and educators across the state. “There may be some reevaluation and monitoring along the way, but at least this is a start to say to our schools, ‘We’re ready to move forward. We need your help.’”
For local input on this story, the Messenger attempted to contact the athletics directors of each high school in Sanpete but could not reach them. More will be written on this story in the coming weeks.
More information is listed on these recommendations at UHSAA.org.