ASHLAND, Ky. - The KHSAA Board of Control voted Friday to postpone the beginning of mandatory high school sports practices to at least Aug. 3, except for golf, which can start July 15.
And the KHSAA fully intends for competition to resume this fall, ending a COVID-19-pandemic-induced hiatus dating to March 12.
“We’re playing this fall,” KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett said during the board’s work session on Friday morning. “We’re gonna participate in athletics and activities this fall. We don’t know what it’s gonna look like, but we’re going to.”
That is, if Kentucky continues to make progress in its emergence from the pandemic. Tackett — known for his blunt communication style — made his perspective abundantly clear.
“If our state wants high school sports, you’re gonna have to do the CDC recommendations on masking, on distancing, on hand-washing. That’s it,” Tackett said, addressing the board in Covington and the public via YouTube. “You’re making a choice. Regardless of your motivation, whether it’s political or otherwise, you’re openly saying, ‘I don’t want us to get back to normal as fast as we could,’ when you defy it.”
Tackett praised Gov. Andy Beshear’s inclusion of a mask exemption in his executive order Thursday for “any person who is actively participating in athletic practice, scrimmage or competition that is permitted under separate Healthy at Work requirements or guidance available online.”
“That’s the same thing we’ve been saying all along, is that you decide if you want to make your cross country … or soccer people wear a mask, that’s your local option as a member school,” Tackett said. “This does allow some interpretation in that, and that was critical for us.”
Tackett also addressed the speculation on football and its ability to compete while complying with social distancing directives.
“Obviously, football perception-wise has a different set of challenges, and yet maybe not as bad of challenges as some people would like to believe,” Tackett said. “The sky is really not falling, but we gotta be smart. We’ve gotta balance safety and knowledge.”
Golf is the lone sport that remains scheduled to begin on time, in compliance with social distancing and sanitary guidance. Competitions can get going July 31.
“With minimal effort, the social distancing can work,” Tackett said of golf. “The nature of that game allows people to socially distance.”
In the meantime, teams in other sports can continue what they are doing now — “nothing additional, no additional equipment,” Tackett said — until Aug. 3.
The board will meet next July 28 to discuss further next steps.
Stakeholders should be prepared for “temporary interruptions, either at the local level or the state level,” Tackett said.
Two northeastern Kentucky districts have already experienced those — Russell and Bath County.
The commissioner was pleased no athlete-to-athlete
transmission of COVID-19 has been reported.
“A lot of it has been community spread,” Tackett said. “We gotta realize that’s gonna happen. We’ve gotta realize … we get a week before a district tournament and a particular school has to quarantine for 14 days, they may be out of postseason. That’s just the way this virus works.”