Virginia High School League officials discussed Tuesday the possibility of letting spring teams return to action in the summer but put off any decision until May.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam had announced Monday that K-12 schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year because of the coronavirus pandemic, so the VHSL announced later Monday that all sports are canceled for the rest of the spring.
The VHSL’s crisis management team held a teleconference Tuesday to discuss spring-sports options for after the school year, such as an abbreviated season in the summer.
“The crisis management team overwhelmingly felt a decision on an extension to the spring sports season should be put on hold until May,” VHSL executive director Billy Haun said Tuesday in a news release. “Any options for the spring sports season will require that COVID-19 is no longer a threat and poses no health risks to our student-athletes or the public.”
What are the odds that the VHSL gives summer action the green light?
“A lot of things have to fall in place for this to happen,” Haun said Tuesday night in a phone interview. “I’ve gotten a couple emails from people that said, ‘Thanks for giving us hope.’ I’m glad that we could do that. But at the same time, I really do want people to understand that there’s a lot of things that have to happen. Our country has to get better. We have to beat this virus.
“I understand the passion that these kids have put into being prepared to play a spring sports season. … So we want to be able to keep that hope alive and see if there’s any way that can happen.
“I just got through watching the national news, … and you just never know where we’re going to be. So I don’t even have any idea what the odds would be.”
If the VHSL does give summer action the go-ahead, Haun figures teams would be allowed to restart preseason practice in late June. He figures the games would take place in July.
“I really don’t see us getting any games in in June,” Haun said in the interview. “Teams would have to get back together and practice for awhile. … I would have to work with the Department of Education and the governor’s office and see how the COVID-19 virus goes and how we’re doing. I really think you are looking at late, late June before you even think about … practice.”
Haun figures the summer action would end before late July so it would not interfere with the start of preseason practice for fall sports.
“You’re looking at possibly, maybe 2-3 weeks of opportunities to play games,” Haun said.
So even if games are played in the summer, 2020 VHSL state champions will not be crowned for the spring sports.
“There would be no way that you’d even have an opportunity to do … any kind of championship thing,” Haun said. “The goal would be to provide some opportunity for kids to get on the field and play and compete.
“You just have no time frame for [a state tournament].”
The crisis management committee did not discuss Tuesday whether the summer action would take the form of a short season or whether there might be local tournaments.
“I would not be in favor of a tournament where people get eliminated. I would be more in favor of a round-robin tournament,” Haun said. “Once … somebody gets eliminated, you may not get opportunities to play. The goal would be to give kids as many opportunities to play as possible.”
If the VHSL does hold games in July, athletes would need new physicals beginning July 1 because June 30 is the expiration date of sports physicals that were taken for the current school year.
“We have some obstacles to overcome,” Haun said. “No. 1 would be the physicals.”
Insurance would be another obstacle. Many of the insurance policies that athletes’ families bought through schools will end on June 30.
“We would have to look and see, are kids going to have access to school insurance in July?” Haun said.
March 16 was supposed to have been the first day that spring sports teams were allowed to play their season-opening games.
But Northam announced on March 13 that schools would be closed from March 16-27. So on March 13, the VHSL pushed back the start of the spring season from March 16 until March 30. Teams have not practiced since March 16, eith