The FHSAA Fall Sports Task Force voted Wednesday to make a recommendation to delay the start of fall training until August 10 at the earliest due to the coronavirus pandemic, particularly with the recent increase in cases in the state.
The original start date for fall sports is July 27.
“We have seen an increase in the number of cases,” said FHSAA president-elect Lauren Otero, who is part of the task force. “I hope this is not the current trend.”
The task force will also consider a proposal from Justin Harrison, FHSAA deputy executive director of sport services. This proposal includes several options for a range of start dates from which schools can choose, and then, depending on which of these date range options schools have finished starting their fall sport, would be grouped and divided into classes until State sports are linked to the respective series.
“It allows schools to make the best choice for them,” he said.
Harrison pointed out that the plan was a draft when he presented it to the task force, and in part due to the fact that many members of the group saw it for the first time, the idea that members of the group work examine the proposal. before continuing, it was decided.
Unlike the other proposals discussed, Harrison’s plan would not change the state series for most of the options that schools could choose from.
“The idea would be not to change the end of the season,” he said. “This is where it gets really difficult.”
Members of some schools in the region began their summer training on June 15 after their absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The task force initially voted 7-7, Otero breaking the tie. Not all members were on call. Mark Rosenbalm, Collier County public school coordinator for interscholastic athletics, then changed his vote in favor.
Rosenbalm lobbied for the task force not to decide on a start date before schools started classes to see if there was an increase in positive cases or not.
“Having a start date before that just doesn’t make sense to me,” he said. “It’s the students and the athletes first. We have to start after school starts.”
The task force, which met on June 23, also considered presentations on security procedures for officials and on coronavirus treatment procedures for student athletes on Wednesday.
The working group can only make recommendations, so everything that is decided is not binding.
Members returned to the big differences they face in their respective fields, with, for example, most schools in South Florida on the East Coast still unable to access their campuses. The counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach lag behind the rest of the state in the governor’s reopening phases. Many other counties have started some exercises.
Sarasota County moved back Tuesday in its high school sports training phase due to an increase in the number of cases.
During Zoom’s two-hour teleconference, Blountstown High School sports director and football coach Beau Johnson said Harrison’s proposal coincided with comments he made, emphasizing the possibility that every school has the same start date may not be the best solution, as the coronavirus pandemic affects different regions to different degrees.
“It gives the whole state options,” said Johnson of Harrison’s plan. “It gives each school district options.”
Part of Harrison’s plan that included the option for the last start date range would not include participation in the state series. Johnson had previously stated in the appeal that it was not possible to have a series of states with so many unknowns.
“It could be an impossible dream for this year,” he said.
Rosenbalm wants to try to keep the majority of a football season safe and involve fans, as the sport generates most of the revenue for high school sports programs.
“If the football season doesn’t go smoothly, if we have to limit the number of fans, it will devastate most of our budgets,” he said.
Godby High School players perform cone drills during the first week of sanctioned off-season training.