ATHLETICS: Board of Control approves dates for winter sports to begin practice

MATT TYSON/The News-Enterprise Elizabethtown senior Jaquias Franklin helped lead the Panthers to the 5th Region Tournament championship last season.

The KHSAA Board of Control approved practice and competition dates for the winter sports and sport-activities of basketball, bowling, competitive cheer, dance, swimming & diving, and wrestling Wednesday morning.

Competitive cheer and dance can begin practice Monday with a gradual segmented approach to activity over the next few weeks.

Additionally, the Board approved clarifications on sideline cheer in that stunting (defined per NFHS rules as “One or more bases support one or more top persons off the performing surface”) can only be done during sideline cheer activities on an appropriate surface and only in skills that are permitted at that time to be practiced by the school’s competitive cheer program.

“As participants in various programs begin to get back to games and competitions, we have to help ensure a healthy transition, and returning in segments ensures an appropriate progression,” KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett said. “We are thankful that unlike most collegiate games last weekend, our schools seem to take extra steps to be sure that, in a safe manner, these students can remain involved.

“We want that involvement and despite the fact that national sports medicine authorities don’t consider sideline cheer or other groups as essential to a contest (defining essential individuals for contests as the athletes in the contests, coaches, officials, event staff, medical staff, and security in resumption documents), we have to be sure things are done safely during this ongoing pandemic. A few individuals we have heard from seem to think that you can just pick up where things left off last year, but that is not practical from a health and safety standpoint and based on health data.”

Basketball can begin practice Oct. 26 with contests allowed on a tentative start date of Nov. 23 in a season already moved earlier than normal for a start due to facility conflicts for planned state events. Swimming and diving, wrestling and bowling can start practices on Nov. 2. Swimming & diving will have a 14 competitions beginning Nov. 16 while wrestling can begin Dec. 7 with 16 competitions.

Interscholastic scrimmages are eliminated in all three sports for this season.

All six sports and sport-activities will have its seasons broken into three segments with restrictions and allowances detailed in the guidance.

“As we have said from day one, this year will likely look different,” Tackett said. “As we have resumed fall competition, our staff and our member schools are constantly making notes about enhancements as we do everything possible to help keep these important activities going during the current public health crisis. Some of our schools have some additional work to do in a variety of areas, but we remain very proud of the efforts that our schools are making as they adapt to these challenging times.”

The Board also approved the creation of a semi-state round to help with the many issues caused by COVID-19 for the 2020 State Volleyball Tournament. The 16 volleyball regions would be split with Regions 1-8 and 9-16 having a blind draw for individual first-round matches to be played at host sites. These matches would be scheduled early during the week of the state tournament.

With the field down to eight teams following the semi-states, the Board directed the Commissioner’s office to then finalize a schedule with appropriate health authorities for the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals which are currently scheduled to be held at Valley High School in Louisville the first week of November.

The distribution of any recommended football alignment changes per enrollment report was approved by the Board. A realignment review is next scheduled to be implemented in the 2023 season and the Board endorsed the Association to lift the scheduling embargo for the 2021 and 2022 seasons.

The Board accepted a report on officials licensing for 2018-19 and 2019-20 compared to the current academic year. The Association has gotten reports that several officials are sitting out this year due to being in an at-risk category, but there has been an increase in college students becoming licensed.

Also on Wednesday, the Board:

t Approved an allowance for competition on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the State Cross Country Championships depending on facility issues and availability. The available dates will give the Association options to address crowd control, the time between races, and sanitation.

t Accepted a report on the State Golf Championships with plans that continue to permit a field of 144 golfers to advance to state.

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