Over the past few months, decisions on how to handle the COVID-19 pandemic have been both praised and criticized by the public. In the case of the KHSAA’s decisions concerning the pandemic, I believe that its Board of Control has correctly handled this terrible situation.
This is in light of their meeting yesterday where they decided to end the current dead period while also canceling the annual summer dead period, which was slated to take place from June 25-July 9.
However, let’s start at the beginning of this entire situation, because that is where the KHSAA first started to correctly address this tragic pandemic, which has left behind more than 100,000 dead Americans in its wake.
First, they made the admirable decision to cancel spring prep sports in order to further stop the spread of the virus. That decision was similar to just about every other state in the nation, but it should still be commended.
But let’s fast forward almost three months later to now where the virus is on the decline in Kentucky.
Athletes have been away from their coaches for such an incredibly long, but necessary dead period. The Board of Control knew this and made the beneficial choice to let social interactions occur between coaches and players for the first two weeks of June.
The relationships prep athletes have with their coaches is one that will help shape who they will become later on in life. It doesn’t need to be understated, and I’m happy the KHSAA knows the importance of it.
The more controversial decision made by the Board of Control on Thursday afternoon was the 13-5 vote to cancel the summer dead period.
While I understand that many families had vacations planned for this time and that some school systems may have a tough time adjusting to this, I still believe they made the right move.
First, starting activities after three months of doing nothing only to then go on another two-week break just isn’t a feasible or practical way to make sure student-athletes and programs will be ready to start back their seasons after such a long layoff.
Of course, the road back to having sports at every level needs to be well-regulated and done safely, but there needs to be enough time given to make sure the process back to normality is done effectively.
As Commissioner Julian Tackett said, we have never faced a situation like this before. And yes, the entire Board of Control insisted that workouts in June must be very voluntary.
There are some complexities with how athletes and coaches deal with “voluntary” workouts. But considering the circumstances, no one should feel any pressure to immediately come back to sports.
Every opportunity needs to be made available to programs and athletes in their return to doing what they love, and the KHSAA has done everything in their available power to make sure this is the reality.
Will this process go smoothly? I think it’s safe to say that there will be some speed bumps along the way. Plus, it’s important to note that there still isn’t any timeline for when high-contact sports (football) can get back to practicing. We still have a long way to go.
However, I strongly believe that the KHSAA has the absolute best interests of student-athletes in this state at the center of their decisions. This was on display during their long, nuanced conversation during their meeting.
The journey back to having high school sports has only just begun, but with how the KHSAA has handled the situation thus far, the organization’s leadership has earned my respect.