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Will high schools field fall sports teams?

CHSAA has created a committee ... Good job, CHSAA

The CHSAA Resocialization Task Force is here to discuss the return of fall sports. However, CHSAA isn't the only power broker in the decision-making process.
Townsend Bessent | Daily file photo |

Insert the ole-timey teletype noise to accompany this breaking news.

The Colorado High School Activities Association has established the CHSAA Resocialization Task Force to study the return of sports in the upcoming school year in a world of — hopefully — diminishing COVID-19.

First of all, our benevolent overlords at CHSAA need to title things better. Leave it to the fine people who brought us the rating-percentage index, which is a dreadful name for a dreadful playoff formula.

But back to the CHSAA Resocialization Task Force — snooze — and its important points from its memo.

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Do students need to be fully engaged with in-person learning before the Association resumes activities and athletics?

In a word, yes.

High school sports are not college sports or, more specifically, big-time NCAA football and basketball, which produce revenue. The reason the NCAA and its member schools are twisting themselves into pretzels to try to get a football season off this fall, regardless of whether students are back on campus, is because ESPN, CBS, and Fox play a ton of money for the games and football, in particular, pays for everything else athletic.

The fiduciary concern does not exist at the high school level.

What’s more, there’s the common-sense principle of, “If it’s not safe to hold classes, why would it be safe to have sports?”

Should CHSAA consider offering some activities and athletics if federal, state, medical and safety guidelines can be met at the local and association level?

Well, that seems logical. We hope that CHSAA doesn’t spend that much time debating this, but it’s CHSAA, so it may.

Should CHSAA consider moving some activities and athletics to later start dates, such as September, October, or January, and consider extending the end of the season further than the traditional activities calendar? Should CHSAA consider adjusting some activities and athletics to be conducted earlier or later than their traditional season?

Leave it to CHSAA to turn one question into two agenda points, but it is interesting. Do fall sports (golf, volleyball, football, soccer, cross-country and softball) have delayed starts and/or get pushed back into what would be the winter season?

A delayed start seems reasonable. Let’s get the students back in classrooms and see how it goes with regard to COVID-19, and then open up sports, a proper priority. Presumably, our fall sports teams would have reduced schedules with Western Slope League play only. (Staying on the Slope also seems a good thing as there are more virus cases on the Front Range.)

And in case you’re wondering, the 3A football league opener is Battle Mountain at Eagle Valley on Oct. 2. That might be interesting.

From a Western Slope perspective, one of the many reasons we don’t care for CHSAA is that it doesn’t give a hoot for teams outside the Interstate 25 corridor. And moving fall sports to winter would create chaos on the Western Slope.

How do Western Slope teams play football, soccer, golf and softball and run cross-country in January? (Der CHSAA, it snows up here.) Volleyball could play, but the logistics would be interesting with the basketball teams at our four schools. (And, yes, the spikers also have a conflict with club play.)

While Front Range teams could still play fall sports during the winter as the weather there is capricious, there’s also a people-power issue for combining the two seasons. Our local schools encourage multi-sport athletes and need them to have successful athletic programs.

Vail Christian and Vail Mountain, our 2A schools, can’t field football/soccer teams and basketball/skiing teams simultaneously. Last year, Jamison Lee was the quarterback and point guard for the Saints. Jamo would have been busy.

While Class 4A Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley have bigger student bodies, two seasons at once would certainly compromise competitiveness.

Let’s hope we can stick to the calendar.

What safety measures will need to be in place to resume specific and/or all activities?

CHSAA can’t answer this question and neither can we right now. And while the CHSAA Resocialization Task Force doubtless has good intentions, this question shows how powerless this committee is.

Yes, it’s the governing board of high school sports in Colorado, but, in the end, CHSAA has no power in the matter of the resumption of sports and the coronavirus.

If you followed the progression of the postponement/cancelation of spring sports, CHSAA was rightly taking its cue from Gov. Jared Polis. As Polis issued and extended the “stay at home” order, so went CHSAA.

While never shy to take a shot at CHSAA — and deservedly so, I want high school and all sports to return. Not only are we talking about my professional life, but also my raison d’etre. And I’m not the only one. We all need our sports back, be it high school, college or pro.

The CHSAA Resocialization Task Force aside, whether we have high school sports in the fall is going to depend on whether our schools and schools around the state can resume learning in the classroom safely this fall and whether Gov. Polis determines that it’s safe for large crowds to gather at sporting events.

It’s really that simple and that hard.


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