GAINESVILLE – Right now, it is “muddy waters.”
That comment made by Florida High School Athletic Association Executive Director George Tomyn regarding a potential plan involving a return to play for high school athletics in the Sunshine State.
The FHSAA held its second Fall Sports Task Force Meeting via Zoom, Wednesday morning with the idea at least in a recommendation to study more in pushing back the start of practices for high school athletics to no earlier than Monday, August 10.
In an 8-7 vote that was recommended by Blountstown head football coach and athletic director, Beau Johnson, the plan would take an FHSAA plan that laid out four options for how high school athletics could proceed in different regions as presented by the FHSAA’s Associate Director of Athletic Services, Justin Harrison in conjunction with the start date of August 10.
The plan from the FHSAA would give schools and school districts various options of how to proceed with various sports seasons. This plan came about after one recommendation to approve a change in calendar start dates for fall sports on recommendations that came from the Florida Athletic Coaches Association was voted down.
The Florida Athletic Coaches Association’s recommendations recommended four different options that had a potential start date going from as scheduled all the way out to a September 8 start date for practices that would extend playoffs and state championships into late-December through mid-January.
Among other ideas was an idea of moving the sports seasons around that came in from Dung Nguyen, the Athletic Director for Miami-Dade County Public Schools. That plan was ultimately not considered as most agreed that flipping the seasons around could set up a “double-whammy” situation, especially for spring sports that saw their seasons canceled as a result of COVID-19.
However, the plan that was voted on and approved to be studied further is only in the recommendation and does not change where the FHSAA’s current calendar stands as of today that the first fall practices for most sports will take place starting Monday, July 27.
“At this time, no plan has been accepted, addressed or adopted. No final decision has been made”, Tomyn said as he made clear about the current July 27 start date still standing.
With the FHSAA plan, the start dates for a first regular-season contest will range with three different dates going from August 31, September 14, and September 21.
Under the options of the start dates, the state series would be kept intact, but it was noted even by FHSAA staff that have a state series for any sport is no guarantee at this time.
When looking at recommendations from FHSAA member schools and seeing where things stand, in a survey that was sent out to nearly 780 member schools, 178 responses said that schools would start between the slated August 10-14 dates that most schools are projected to have for opening school for the 2020-2021 school year. 122 said extracurricular activities would be allowed while 90 still had no decision on this. When it came to things regarding travel, the survey had a very mixed bag of responses with 73 saying they have travel restrictions, 70 said no, 69 are still unknown. Some will not be allowed to travel, or travel to a specific area.
Other points made during the meeting:
Duval County Public School Athletic Director Tammie Talley is recommended that state championships be held a school site on a neutral field instead of the central sites. However, that was tied into the FACA proposals on calendar dates.
Collier County’s Coordinator of Interscholastic Athletics, Mark Rosenbalm said that football needs to be able to go off with fans because football is the biggest revenue sport for most #FHSAA member schools. Budgets would be devastated if fans are limited in attending games. “If the football season doesn’t go without a hitch… it’s going to devastate most of our budgets and we’re going to have to figure something out.”
John Scarpino of the Mid-Coast Officials Association is saying that different policies will most likely be needed for indoor vs. outdoor spots and contact vs non-contact sports as well as looking at geography. Scarpino also recommended some protocols for football officials, but nothing official at this time.
It is unknown when the FHSAA will schedule a Board of Directors meeting to take up this recommendation or if the FHSAA will require the Fall Sports Task Force to meet again if more things are needing to be reviewed at this time.