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High School Sports Season Delayed Until Aug. 24 In Florida

Local high school sports will be delayed, along with the start of schools, in areas hard-hit by the coronavirus
Local high school sports will be delayed, along with the start of schools, in areas hard-hit by the coronavirus

The statewide high school athletic association decided Thursday to postpone the start of the fall sports by one month, until Aug. 24, after initially voting to proceed as normal despite the recommendations of its own medical advisory board which said it was unsafe due to rising cases of coronavirus across Florida.

The move came after several greater Tampa Bay counties decided on their own to postpone football practice and other sports for a few weeks.

The Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) voted 11-4 to delay the start of sports late Thursday.

Earlier in the week, the FHSAA voted 10-5 to keep the July 27 start date intact, leaving the decision to postpone or not up to individual school districts.

In a five-hour Zoom meeting Monday, members of the FHSAA heard from the Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Jennifer Maynard, chair of the FHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee.

“On football and volleyball, all of the following benchmarks must be met to consider return to competition. Number one: a downward trajectory of documented COVID-19 cases or downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests,” she said.

“Less than 5% positive COVID-19 cases for at least 28 days."

At the meeting on Monday, Wewahitchka football coach Bobby Johns took issue with Maynard's recommendation to delay “until further notice.”

That is “very open-ended and basically leaves no hope in sight. We might as well use the word cancel because that's the direction where this would take us," he said at the meeting.

Delaying sports “completely flies in the face of the stance of what the governor has said and what our school systems have said, that we are going to try to go back to school,” Johns added.

“Ultimately, the parents -- they control this situation. They do not have to allow their kids to participate. They can say no," he said.

Another meeting of the FHSAA to review the latest expert advice is scheduled for no later than Aug. 17.Between Monday's meeting and Thursday's announcement of the statewide delay until Aug. 24, several counties announced their own plans for postponing fall sports.

Pasco County said it planned to open school Aug. 24, and “all fall sports on September 7th,” said the school district in a tweet Wednesday.

Sarasota, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas and Hernando County also called for delays.


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Kerry Sheridan is a reporter and co-host of All Things Considered at WUSF Public Media.