By Matthew Lewis, Contributing Reporter
DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA – Last week the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) held a second emergency board meeting to discuss and vote on the official start date for fall sports for all of its member schools and voted to push back the start date of fall sports from July 27th to August 24th at the earliest.
As part of the motion, the Board of Directors will meet again between August 10th and 17th to review current data and information from its Sports Medicine Advisory Committee as well as to further discuss the potential of beginning fall sports on August 24th.
“Sacrifices are going to have to be made, but I don’t want the sacrifice of making the wrong decision causing a death,” said FHSAA Board of Director’s President Lauren Otero regarding the new decision. The board meeting on August 17th is with the Sports Medicine Advisory Board, allowing them to gather more data.
In the meantime, athletic conditioning is allowed to continue if a school districts agrees. “We don’t have to make that decision right now which is the beauty of this. We can make a decision whether or not to start as a whole, as one body, to guide the entire state and the right decision,” said Otero.
If the August 24th fall sports start date is approved at the next FHSAA Board of Directors meeting, this will be the first allowable date for member schools to begin official fall sports practice. Schools and school districts will still have the authority to determine whether or not it is safe for their community to re-engage in athletic activities at that time.
The School District of Palm Beach County is continuing to monitor the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. Currently, the county remains at the Phase 1 level of reopening. At this time Districtwide participation in athletics and conditioning, as well as all other extracurricular activities, is on hold until further notice.
Boca Raton athletic director Brandon Walker told the Palm Beach Post. “I don’t think it’s [safe]. We still have too many cases and there’s still some unknowns. Football is a completely different beast than all the other sports.”
Pahokee football coach DJ Boldin said he would like to see a plan in which the season starts in October after about six weeks of training. “Kids losing 10, 15 pounds of muscle and there’s no way you can put that back on in three weeks to prepare for a game. That’s so unrealistic,”
Boldin was frustrated by the last minute decicions and planning, “It just seems like the blind is leading the blind.” Adding “It’s a great liability that people aren’t really looking at the full scope of these decisions and how they are really going to affect the kids.”
The Palm Beach County School Board voted unanimously on July 22nd to delay the start date of the academic year by three weeks, until August 31st, allowing more time to prepare for the start of school, which will launch with distance learning.
As the Palm Beach Post reported, tomorrow (July 29th) the school board will be asked to approve up to $5 million to buy roughly 10,000 Chromebooks at a discount from Office Depot and sign two contracts to provide additional internet connections — a $1.2 million year-long agreement with T-Mobile and a $900,000 six-month contract with Comcast.
As far as athletics, in a statement on July 24th, Palm Beach County School District wrote, “The District will continue to reevaluate information as it becomes available, and the opportunities for our coaches and student-athletes to return to participation.”
When asked for more details on best and worst case scenario planning, Julie Houston Trieste, Media Relations Specialist, School District of Palm Beach County, said “This [statement] is what I have on athletics that I can share at this time.”
The FHSAA supervises and regulates interscholastic athletic programs for high school students at member public, private and charter schools. Headquartered in Gainesville, it is the official governing body for interscholastic athletics in Florida.