CHSAA votes to allow local decisions on fall football, spirit
The on-again, off-again cycle of whether Colorado will join 34 other states across the nation in allowing high school football to be played this fall might be on again.
Late Wednesday night, the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) Board of Directors voted unanimously to allow school districts across the state to make their own decision as to whether some fall sports, including football, can be played. The vote will allow each school district the option of playing football, field hockey and sideline spirit either this fall, in “season A,” or to hold competition in those sports as originally decided in August in “season C,” which begins in March. Other traditional fall sports including volleyball and boys soccer will remain in season C, regardless of each district’s preferences.
According to a CHSAA press release, “the CHSAA Board of Directors voted to approve variances from the Governor’s COVID Response Team which will provide member schools with the local option to play field hockey, football and sideline spirit during the fall (Season A) season. Schools will continue to have the option to play these sports in Season C, as previously upheld by the board if they elect not to play during Season A. The seasons will be treated equitably. Schools may not play in both seasons. This will allow local schools and districts to make the determination.”
Thompson School District (TSD) Athletic Director Kevin Clark, reached by telephone Thursday morning, explained that some details do need to be worked out and some decisions what precisely the schedule for fall football will look like are currently being made by CHSAA and member schools. Clark was expressed great confidence that football will be played this fall by the TSD’s four high schools, including Berthoud.
Clark said that once the possibility of fall football arose, the TSD provided their plans to the Larimer County Health Department, whose work throughout the entire process Clark was very complimentary, and were told by officials they can work to make fall football a reality once CHSAA and Gov. Polis gave the green light.
“First thing is we are waiting for CHSAA to send us the parameters of the season, there are rumors out there of a six-game regular season, rumors of a seven-game regular season. We also need to determine a first practice date and once we get that information we can go to the (Larimer County) health department with dates for games and figure out what kind of crowd size we can have,” Clark said. He expressed confidence that spectators will be allowed to attend football games in person but the exact crowd size will be determined in the near future.
In August, CHSAA released the modified high school sports and activities schedule with significant adjustments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What CHSAA, with input from Governor Jared Polis (D) and the state health department, initially decided was to move what were dubbed “contact” sports to the spring, allowing only softball, boys golf and cross county to remain in their traditional fall setting.
Wednesday night’s announcement follows what has been a tumultuous two weeks.
Initially, on Sept. 7, CHSAA Commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green stated that CHSAA would consider making changes to the sports schedule saying, “In recent weeks, we have seen reconsideration at the Association, school district and conference level regarding resuming fall sports, especially football. We also hear from those who are advocating for a reconsideration of the 2020-21 sports calendar.”
Then, on Sept. 8, the CHSAA Board of Directors voted unanimously to not make any changes to the 2020-21 calendar and adhere to the initial, four-season schedule released in August. CHSAA explained the decision thusly in a press release on Sept. 9, “Following multiple conversations with the Governor’s office, it was made clear to Blandford-Green that the variances she sought from the COVID-19 Response Team since June in order to play certain sports would not be given. This information was conveyed to the Board of Directors prior to their meeting, and vote, on (Sept. 8).”
An unscientific sampling of statewide social media response to the Sept. 9 announcement found an overwhelming amount of dissatisfaction with CHSAA’s decision to not reconsider the 2020-21 schedule.
On Sept. 12, Blandford-Green released a direct statement that was somewhat defensive in nature. Blandford-Green’s comments read, in part, “Parties have questioned our credibility, integrity and honesty and even our commitment to the students of Colorado and those we serve yet they are doing so without all the facts before them.”
She continued, “We are in a pandemic and the safety of the ecosystem of sports means that the approval of our resumption plans by out state health officials must be scrutinized much different from your weekend youth and recreation sports.” Blandford-Green’s statement also outlined the process of attempting to resume sports, stating how safety plans must first be submitted to and approved by Gov. Polis and then input must be garnered from member administrations (schools and school districts) before the Board can make further decisions.
On Monday afternoon, the Surveyor reached out to CHSAA in an attempt to speak with Blandford-Green directly but no response was provided.
The Surveyor will continue to update this story as news develops.
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