Kentucky High School Athletic Association Commissioner Julian Tackett spoke briefly about the upcoming high school sports season at the Interim Joint Committee on Education and the KDE Superintendents Webcast on Monday.
In a positive tone Tackett stated, "We are looking at having fall sports, without doubt. We are still planning for fall sports. What that looks like could change, just like the data related to the virus changes. We are more optimistic now than perhaps a few weeks ago."
Tackett stated that sports is an important tool in preventing dropouts with some students, and felt it was important to get sports started back up when it is deemed safe to do so.
"We realize that we're walking a tightrope here," Tackett stated. There's obviously perceived and, likely, real risks of participation in extracurricular athletics. But we are also in very many communities the No. 1 dropout prevention tool that you have. There are people in our communities that every one of you know would not be participating if there was not an athletics or activities opportunity. We're trying to walk that tightrope delicately."
Tackett also talked about the KHSAA needed to be flexible in their efforts to open sports back up. Representative Steve Riley asked if there was talk about moving 'high contact sports to spring and perhaps playing 'less contact sports' in the fall. Tackett stated that is something that will be discussed in Friday's KHSAA Board of Control meeting. Tackett explained, according to experts, that basketball could be more dangerous than football - in regards to COVID-19 - because basketball is played indoors.
Last month there was a rumor going around that the KHSAA were to vote on a proposal to switch football to spring and baseball to fall, but the KHSAA later stated that there was no move like that up for vote at this time. However, Tackett did state that he was not sure if all six of the traditional fall sports (football, volleyball, soccer, field hockey, golf and cross country) would all be played in the fall season this fall.
The question of limiting and/or eliminating travel to play out-of-state teams was brought up. Tackett stated this would be a decision made by each individual district, and he noted that some states might be more of a risk than other states.
"You're dealing with contracts signed by each individual school, but I think the guidance we are working toward would state that those need to be reaffirmed by the local board of education if they're going to be played," Tackett said. "We want that responsibility perhaps above the coach level who made that decision. Certainly, there are certain states that should be off limits. But I also know that past directives to try to restrict out-of-state travel have not found themselves well in the judiciary."
There seems to be a lot more questions than answers at this time, in regards to high school fall sports, but more light might be shed on the subject after Friday's Board of Control meeting. Also, Tackett feels the fall sports picture might become more clear at the end of the month of July.
STEVE CORNELIUS is the CJ Sports Editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @CJSportseditor.