LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — The Kentucky High School Athletic Association is moving forward with a plan to play sports this fall.
Practices for football and other fall sports are scheduled to begin Monday, with the first football games slated to begin on Friday, Sept. 11. The Board of Control voted 16-2 in favor of the current schedule that delayed the beginning of fall sports by more than two weeks because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Golf has already begun and teams have been playing since late July.
“There is absolutely no doubt this is going to be the most unusual year we’ve been through,” KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett said Thursday.
The football season now will consist of nine regular-season games and all competition is subject to approval by Gov. Andy Beshear, the Kentucky Department of Education, and the Kentucky Department of Public Health.
“We’re going to have to remain in line with any existing order that is issued,” Tackett said. “We’re doing a lot of balance.”
During the meeting, the board considered two alternatives, both of which were voted down by the board of control. A second alternative would have moved starting dates for fall competition to Sept. 28, but the board voted 15-3 against the measure.
Another option the board considered would have cross country and field hockey to start on Sept. 7 but delay the start of football and volleyball to Sept. 28. That version was voted down by the board by a 13-5 margin.
“It’s a major, major challenge for us and there are no clear-cut decisions,” Tackett said. “There are people, regardless of what you do, that are going to find fault.”
Tackett said the plan still must be approved by the governor’s office, the Kentucky Department of Education and the Kentucky Department of Public Health.
Gov. Andy Beshear seemed to question the wisdom of the decision by the board of control.
“We know a lot about this virus now,” he said. “We know that it spreads by contact. We know the closer the contact, the easier it can spread. … Do we want to start at a time when we have a 10 percent chance of getting through a season where we might play two games? Or do we want to start at a time where we think we can get through 10 games and people have a full and complete season?”
Beshear said he has to "think it through" before deciding if he would make a recommendation to the KHSAA.
“I believe a student-athlete is a student first and an athlete second,” he said. “Just about all of our student-athletes out there are ultimately going to make their livings with their mind.”
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21