DIAA decision on fall sports delayed
DELAWARE – After a more than four-hour long virtual meeting Thursday morning, no decisions or recommendations were made regarding the 2020-21 high school sports season in The First State.
DIAA deciding to wait for their August 13 meeting before making any decisions. The decision was made with the hope that an announcement regarding the school year will come from the governor’s office, and more information about the virus will be available three weeks from Thursday.
“We would probably have updated guidance from the governor’s office as far as the reopening of schools. DOE and the governor’s office. And updated information from the Department of Public Health,” said DIAA chairperson Dr. Bradley Layfield.
This decision comes despite calls for some sort of guideline to come out of the meeting.
“I think we need to have a plan, at the very least a recommendation. I don’t know if anyone heard the governor’s discussion the other day, but they’re also looking to us for guidance,” said medical member Dr. Bradley Bley.
Bley went on to say the Department of Public Health’s stance on Friday night lights, “in general, as of now, there is no way they are going to allow football [this fall].”
The discussion then turned to what sports could look like.
A number of plans were brought up, but the discussion mostly centered on plans centered around condensed seasons. The Henlopen Plan was one which called for condensed seasons, with winter sports beginning mid-December and competition running through June 19.
Layfield says the majority of the superintendents’ first choice of doing a condensed winter season to start, followed by condensed fall and spring seasons.
The general rule for these plans calls for each sport would have about a two week preseason, six- or seven-week regular season, and two-week championship.
Bley spoke out against the condensed season plan, because of health and medical concerns.
“Coronavirus is not going away. And so we are going to still be dealing with the same issues in December, January, February, March as we’re dealing with now… You’re going to have an athlete still potentially playing in competitions for one sport and practice starting for another. So you have kids jumping teams, and potentially increase the risk of spread. Not to mention the injuries of no rest breaks, stuff like that.”
Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald, superintendent for Caesar Rodney School District, supports condensing seasons, but also wants coaches and athletic directors to modify the way the sports are played for safety.
Out-of-season coaching is allowed until the August 1 deadline, but conditioning programs will be allowed to continue following that date.