high school football

FHSAA Votes to Push Forward with Fall Sports

The FHSAA board met Friday morning to decide the fate of sports this fall. The board voted 11 to 5 in favor of allowing the season to start on Aug. 24. However, there were changes made to have some exceptions.

Allowing Schools to Opt-Out

Board of Directors member Carlos Ochoa proposed an amendment for schools that are unable to start on time. This amendment would allow schools to opt-out on or before Sept. 18 from the FHSAA state series and approved sports season calendar. These schools would work with the FHSAA staff to design regional calendars to permit play outside the approved sports season calendars. The committee voted to allow this.

Schools could set up their schedules to be played at any time before the school year ends.

Safety of Playing

Part of the debate has been whether or not schools can play safely. SMAC does not feel playing safely is not possible at this time. While some areas are improving, others are getting worse. Dr. Jennifer Maynard described introducing sports as “adding fuel to the fire.”

“Until this virus is given the respect it deserves, we’re not going to get there,” Dr. Maynard said.

Based on their research, SMAC does not recommend starting any sports on Aug. 24. It is recommended to wait until there is an evaluation following the start of school.

Board of Directors member Mark Schusterman said he feels the science is being ignored and the board should go with SMAC’s recommendation to postpone. He argued in other states, schools are having issues with cases because you cannot control what kids do.

“This thing is far from over,” Schusterman said.

Schusterman discussed the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918. Even when people wore masks, a lot of people got sick because they went out to sporting events and other crowded places. However, many at the meeting do not share this sentiment.

“Athletics has been something that pulls communities together. Pulls this country together,” Board of Directors member Chalmus Thomas said. “We realize safety is the first priority, but we must move forward.”

Despite the recommendations by SMAC and some board members, high school sports will move forward.

About Harrison Smajovits

Harrison is a sports coordinator at ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM WRUF. He served as a beat writer for Florida Gators football for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. He also contributes to WRUF's Gainesville Sports Center segments and makes appearances on the Clash on Harp on Sports. Harrison has been a content writer for WRUF since January 2019 as well.

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