A new theme is emerging in the debate over when, and how fast, to reopen as the United States tries to emerge from the total quarantine brought on by the global coronavirus pandemic, and sports have not been immune.
- See also: 2019 Florida 2A State Swimming & Diving Champions Pine Crest Won’t Participate in Fall Athletics
As civic leaders battle state and national leaders across the country, Miami-Dade County schools this week threatened to leave the Florida High School Athletics Association over the state association’s plan to push forward with high school athletics as soon as July 27th.
While the FHSAA decision (read more here) allows schools and districts to make their own decisions about when to start their seasons, and gives schools the option to opt-out of state championship series to extend regular seasons instead, some districts are still weighing a departure from the FHSAA altogether.
Miami-Dade County School Board Vice Chair Dr. Steve Gallon III announced on Wednesday that he will make a proposal school’s from Florida’s largest county consider leaving the FHSAA.
“This is an issue of equity, fairness, health, and safety” Dr. Gallon said in the press release. “Despite the fact that schools in our area constitute a significant, major revenue source for the FHSAA, as well as a high number of playoff and state championship teams in various sports, a 10- vote confirms what they think of our districts, schools, and most important, the health and safety, and fair and equitable participation of our students. The FHSAA has clearly sent a message to school districts in South Florida and several others around the state. … They did not even listen to the recommendations of their own Sports Medicine Advisory Committee. We have heard the FHSAA loud and clear. They now need to hear from us.”
Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho also disagreed with the FHSAA decision, saying that he is concerned over the ability of his student-athletes to properly condition and practice to the same extent as schools in other areas in Florida.
“Considering local health conditions across South Florida, (Miami-Dade County Public Schools) is disappointed with the (FHSAA’s) decision to maintain July 27 as the start date for Fall Sports,” Carvalho Tweeted. “This decision will result in inequities and create limitations for our student athletes.”
Considering local health conditions across South Florida, @MDCPS is disappointed with the @FHSAA’s decision to maintain July 27 as the start date for Fall Sports. This decision will result in inequities and create limitations for our student athletes. 1/3
— Alberto M. Carvalho (@MiamiSup) July 22, 2020
According to Prime Time Preps, which covers high school sports in the Tampa area, districts in Orlando, Tampa, and St. Petersburg are also considering opting out of the FHSAA post-season and forming an independent athletic conference.
The counties in south Florida carry especially significant weight, though, because of their success in football, both on the state level and nationally. Teams from Broward and Miami-Dade Counties have won 7 of the 8 high school football state championships offered in Florida this year.
The Broward County Athletic Association announced that they would delay fall practices until further notice. Collier County, Hillsborough County, Orange County, Osceola County, Pasco County, and Seminole County have all made similar announcements.
Florida has been an epicenter for the summer rise of the coronavirus that started in early June. At the time, the state was seeing about 700 new positive tests for coronavirus per day, a number that has risen to an average of more than 11,000 positive tests daily over the last week. Miami-Dade, Broward, and West Palm Beach Counties in south Florida have the 3 highest totals of positive tests in the country.
The FHSAA has received criticism because the vote to start fall high school sports, which includes swimming & diving, came against the advice of its own medical advisory board, which asked for a delay.
In Georgia, a similar battle played out. Jasper Jewell, a member of the board of directors of the GHSA and the athletics director of Atlanta Public Schools, told his peers in a meeting that he thought his district might cancel fall sports altogether if the season wasn’t delayed. That wound up with a 12-0 vote in favor of a two-week delay in the start of the season.
As the beginning of school years across the country draw nearer, high school state associations are rolling out decisions about fall sports across the country this week.
- California announced on Monday that it would push all of its sports until after the conclusion of the fall semester.
- Florida has announced that it will move forward with its fall sports seasons, which includes swimming & diving, as planned.
- The GHSA in Georgia announced via a 12-0 vote that it would postpone football by 2 weeks, while other sports remain on schedule. That means that the football regular season will begin September 4 instead of August 21. After an 8-4 vote against remaining on schedule, Jasper Jewell, a member of the board and the athletic director of Atlantic Public Schools, said he was afraid that his district might cancel fall sports altogether if the season wasn’t delayed. That, and other discussions, wound up pushing unanimous support toward a two-week delay.
- South Carolina and North Carolina both postponed their fall high school sports schedules until September last week. South Carolina also has a very early State Championship meet, scheduled for early October.
- Michigan announced that it would plan to begin fall sports as usual, which includes girls swimming & diving. Practices for all fall sports besides football can begin August 12. The school has remained open to the possibility of having to suspend those sports during the season, at which point they’d be rescheduled for later in the year. Indoor pools in Michigan are still not open, though University of Michigan athletes have returned to training at the Canham Natatorium.