As the Florida High School Athletic Association looks into pushing the start of fall sports to the end of November, Gov. Ron DeSantis is urging schools to play on.
DeSantis says just as he believes parents should have options when it comes to sending their kids back to the classroom, he thinks parents should choices when it comes to sending kids back to the athletic field.
“When we went to distance learning the activities and the sports stopped for kids in middle school and high school. Those are moments that we’re not going to be able to get back—especially for the seniors. So as we look to what’s coming up in this school year, I think it’s critical that we have boys and girls sports available for our students and if a parent chooses to not have their kids play, that is totally fine and that is a parental choice,” DeSatnis says.
DeSantis says he thinks participation in sports is a valuable experience for students. He says that’s something he says he knows firsthand. He played baseball at Yale during his undergrad career.
“I think it made me a better student," DeSantis says. " I think it absolutely made me have to work hard—having to balance playing baseball with school work. By the time I got into law school, I was in Harvard law school, everyone was like ‘oh my gosh it’s so tough all this stuff.’ I never had more time on my hands because I was so used to working out, practicing, playing, obviously I worked jobs."
To illustrate his point, DeSantis invited Heisman trophy winner and former FSU football player and NBA player Charlie Ward to speak during a round table discussion on the importance of sports.
“Just being a student athlete definitely taught me a lot about teamwork, how to relate to each other, discipline," Ward said. "You know the discipline for us to be able to share with our guys and being able to hold them accountable. That’s been the toughest thing for us with our guys is being able to hold them accountable for their actions.”
Ward now works as a basketball coach at Florida High. He says kids are playing sports with each other anyway and he sees no reason it couldn’t be done safely with coaches and mentors involved.
Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran also agrees students and parents should be given the option to participate in sports this fall.
“There’s a way to do it just like there is schools where you can maintain a safe level of competition during this pandemic,” Corcoran says.
The Florida High School Athletic Association Board of Directors is set to meet August 14. It will hear from committees, including the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, before making a decision on the new start date for fall sports.