Fall high school sports in Kentucky were given the green light Tuesday morning after months of questions and speculation.

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association, during a virtual Board of Control meeting, approved start dates for the remaining fall sports after golf was approved to start competition this Friday at the previous Board of Control meeting on July 10.

All other fall sports will resume full practices in late August and begin competition in September.

Under the current plan, cross-country, volleyball, soccer and field hockey will begin official practice on Aug. 24 with restrictions on the number of hours during this first week. Hour restrictions on practice would be lifted the following week on Aug. 31, with games, matches and meets beginning Sept. 7.

The Board of Control then voted on how to proceed with football. Per the KHSAA’s ruling, football practice will begin Aug. 24 with helmet-only practices. Week one will kick off Sept. 11, with the postseason beginning Nov. 13.

Postseason football will allow for five rounds, with the state finals moved to Dec. 11-12 at the University of Kentucky’s Kroger Field.

All fall sports, including football, will be limited to 7.5 hours of practice during the first week beginning Aug. 24. Beginning the week of Aug. 31, sports can resume full weeks of practice schedules.

From now until Aug. 23, the Board of Control ruled to remain in “Segment 3”, limiting practices to no more than 50 and divided into pods of 10 or fewer players. The six-hour limit on weekly practice time will remain until this time as well.

The KHSAA also approved limitations on the number of participants in uniform to ensure optimal social distancing procedures on sidelines. This included 60 players for football, 24 for soccer and field hockey, 15 for volleyball and 10 for cross-country per event.

There will also be limits on the number of competitions in team sports to eight teams for non-National Federation of State High School Association sanctioned events. For fall sports, this ruling affects soccer, volleyball and field hockey.

The decision to proceed with fall sports was one of three options laid out by KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett near the start of the meeting.

Option one was to delay the start of fall sports with the exception of golf, but leave fall sports in the fall. Option two was switching all fall sports, with the exception of golf and field hockey, to the spring and move spring sports such as baseball, softball and tennis to the fall. Option 3 was to “sandwich” fall sports in between during the winter and spring months.

Tackett acknowledged there will be some difficulties moving forward and that things could change based on how the COVID-19 pandemic develops.

“We have to be ready to pivot at a moment’s notice because of what happens,” Tackett said during the meeting. “We have to be ready to shift based on what data does.”

Tackett also stressed the importance for the public in following all state guidelines in helping to ensure fall sports can continue as uninterrupted as possible.

“No matter what we do today, we have got to get our entire state behind trying to slow down this spread, or we’re not gonna have sports,” Tackett said. “We are beyond arguing about legitimacy. We know what the healthcare professionals are saying.”

Another Board of Control meeting is set for Aug. 20.

Matt Tyson can be reached at 270-505-1754 or mtyson@thenewsenterprise.com.

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