OSAA Punts on Decision for Fall Sports

While other states — including neighboring Washington — have made the tough call to push most traditional fall high school sports into the spring season amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic, the Oregon School Activities Association this week decided to push contest dates for most activities back a month, in the hopes that a modified season can still be held.

The OSAA executive board has decided to delay the first contest date for cross country, volleyball and soccer until Wednesday, Sept. 23 (previously Aug, 27). The original first fall practice date of Aug, 17 remains in place at this time.

“These dates allow for local school control regarding fall practice schedules while enabling them to focus on their primary objective of reopening to students,” OSAA Executive Director Peter Weber said in a memo to school districts. “Decisions schools are making regarding their instructional models — on-site, hybrid or distance learning – are still being discussed locally.”

He acknowledged that how sports are handled will still be subject to each individual school district and the decisions made by their local boards of directors. The dates themselves could change as well, Weber admitted, or sports could be further impacted by decisions made by state leaders.

Additional guidance for fall contest protocols, including multi-team events, spectator policies and regional scheduling considerations, are expected from the OSAA at a later date, along with decisions about playoffs and state championships.

“During the past few weeks and months we’ve received countless emails advocating for the safe return of school sports and activities,” Weber said. “The OSAA executive board and staff share the passion and desire expressed by this communication and have been advocating with the governor’s office accordingly. Just as schools will not look the same in the fall of 2020, it’s clear that school sports and activities will not either.”

Considered full-contact sports under the guidelines of the Oregon Health Authority, football, cheerleading and dance are currently prohibited, and no date has been set for the state to review this prohibition.

The OSAA says these restrictions must be lifted by Sept. 28 in order to salvage any form of a modified fall football season, along with a restructured postseason.

The organization did leave the door open to moving some fall sports to later in the school year, if they cannot be played this fall. OSAA is also working to determine how music and speech & debate can move forward for the 2020-21 school year.

After the news came down Thursday, Canby head football coach Jimmy Joyce posted an update on social media acknowledging that football in Oregon is “still in a holding pattern,” and their season has been delayed until further notice.

“I know this is hard and we all just want answers in these uncertain times,” he said. “We will stay the course and continue to control what we can. We will be back on the field on Friday, getting stronger and we will be ready when it is our time!”

Non-mandatory workouts for football, baseball, softball, cross-country and other activities resumed earlier this month, under strict guidelines consistent with Clackamas County’s status as a phase 1 county.

Even then, Coach Joyce admitted the future of the fall season was quite uncertain.

“We talk about that as a team all the time, that, you know, we don’t control what happens,” he told the Canby Now Podcast.”We’re still waiting to see exactly what school’s going to look like in the fall. We’re still waiting to see what football’s going to look like in the fall. We have no choice but to wait, and wait patiently.”

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