The wondering can stop. The COVID-19 pandemic halted high school sports around the state of Georgia back on March 15.
It appears they’ll be back by the end of the first week of August.
The Georgia High School Association voted to move back the high school football season two weeks from the original August 21 start date.
The new regular season will begin on September 4 and teams will play a full 10-game schedule and a full playoff slate with the state championship games scheduled for December 28-30. Football practices begin at their normally scheduled time. Acclimation practices begin on Monday. Teams can practice in full pads starting August 1.
The GHSA’s Board of Trustees began the voting portion of their meeting with hopes of starting a football season on time. When the vote came in it was shot down in an 8-4 vote. The BOT then kicked around the idea of pushing the season back two weeks. The conditioning was a consideration. Most schools missed all of their spring practices and half of their summer workouts. GHSA allowed for teams to begin conditioning only on June 8. Teams were allowed to practice in helmets beginning only on Monday.
There have been multiple programs around the state that have had to shut down their workouts due to positive COVID-19 results.
The two-week break gives those programs the opportunity to catch up on the missed conditioning.
“We didn’t have spring practice, we weren’t able to do 7-on-7 for the longest time and we were just able to put on helmets this past week,” Oconee County High School Athletic Director Curt Miller, a member of the GHSA’s BOT said. “That’s the part of the heat that we were worried about with football. They haven’t had their traditional lead up exercises and lead up activities. That was the reason for the two weeks.”
For volleyball, cross-country and softball, the season begins on time. Softball games can begin on Aug. 6. Volleyball games can commence on Aug. 10. Cross-country meets begin Aug. 10. The early start for volleyball, softball and cross-country keeps those three sports flexible should their need to postponements throughout their seasons. That may be a luxury that football no longer has.
“The cross-country teams and the volleyball teams for the first couple of weeks would have an opportunity to be the only ones competing in the area, so that’s favorable for them,” Athens Academy Athletic Director Kevin Petroski said. “By allowing them to start, if there are any other delays they’ve got a little more leeway to make some adjustments than football does. If there are anymore shutdowns, football is going to have to make changes to the schedule.”
Decisions on spectators at events will be done on district-by-district case. Miller hopes that for normal looking bleachers in a few weeks.
The continuing surging of COVID-19 cases around the state make that likelihood less feasible than it may have once been. The Sports Medicine Advisement Council met Wednesday after The Oconee Enterprise’s deadline to discuss possible recommendations about spectators at high school sporting events.
“I’m anxious to watch them all get back into it and start their games,” Miller said. “As far as contest go and spectators and what games look like, I think everyone understands it’s going to look different. I think it’s going to take some patience from everybody.”