Dear Gov. Andy Beshear,
Your constituents have spoken. Please listen to them.
The KHSAA Board of Control had three votes last Thursday and they were grand slams.
Two, in fact, were mercy-rules and the third wasn’t close either.
The board voted down Option 2 — starting everything Sept. 28 — 15-3. The game ended after 4½ innings.
They voted down Option 3 — starting cross country Monday and football, soccer and volleyball Sept. 28 — 13-5. The backup second baseman came in to finish it out.
They voted to approve Option 1 — beginning practice on Monday for all sports (except golf) — 16-2. Another 4½ innings.
I watched and listened to the meeting and there is no way you can say any board member took his/her job flippantly. Not that they ever do, but they all knew what was at stake with those votes.
They talked to their constituents and voted accordingly.
Now it’s your turn to do so.
It’s one thing if any vote was 10-8, or 9-9, or even 11-7, but they weren’t even close.
It was a running clock.
You pick the analogy.
Allow these high school athletes the chance to participate in sports, much like your son has been doing.
You have asked high school athletes and their coaches to follow protocols and do what was needed for the opportunity to have a fall sports season.
They did all that.
You sounded like a disappointed dad when you talked about the board decision in your Thursday afternoon press conference.
You sounded like the guy who was watching his son’s baseball game and not everyone at the ball field was wearing a mask.
You immediately deflated pretty much all high school athletes with your tone of voice because — and I know it wasn’t just me — you sounded like you were absolutely stunned by the vote and you are not going to abide by it.
It sounded like you have your own agenda and that you are going to put athletes on the bench even longer.
“If we delay, what happens if beginning of school gets delayed again and what happens to these student-athletes at that point in time?” said Superintendent of Woodford County Schools Scott Hawkins during the meeting. “There is no guarantee that we will start school Sept. 28.”
The Kentucky Football Coaches Association put out a graphic last week regarding COVID response and mitigation data.
Of 190 schools reporting with 10,962 football players in the programs, 96 tested positive (0.875 percent) and none were traced back to football workouts. There were 1,760 staff and support staff tested and 17 were positive (0.965 percent) and nine were traced back to football workouts.
The combined numbers are 12,722 players and staff, 113 positive tests (0.888 percent) and zero traced back to football workouts.
What more do you want?
You asked and they delivered.
Mark Evans, the Mercy Academy Athletic Director said he was not in favor of pushing things further and further back.
“We’re probably the best, safest situation for our kids going forward,” he said.
“I feel the best place for our kids is with our staff,” said Reed Adkins, Pike County Schools Superintendent. “... I think we need to put our kids with positive people ... I think the best chance for our students is to be with us.”
Sir, please listen.
I find it hard to believe that yourself, the Kentucky Department of Education and Kentucky Department of Public Healthy have not looked at the three options in the last month.
I would really hope y’all took a hard look at Option 1, considering it was what the board voted to approve last month.
None of this had to come as a surprise.
Yet, you sounded blindsided.
Practice is scheduled to start Monday and competition Sept. 7 for cross country, soccer and volleyball and Sept. 11 for football.
To push the date back would do nothing but deflate thousands of high school athletes.
If you do not uphold the board’s decision, you are telling thousands of high school athletes, “Thank you for all of your hard work, but I am moving the finish line — and there is a chance I’ll move the finish line again.”
And, yes, I’ll say it — many of these high school athletes are and will be registered voters at the next election and (for the most part) as long as the other side runs someone other than the last guy, what you do will matter to them.
If you choose Option 3 then you are affecting approximately 31,500 high school athletes in football, soccer and volleyball. If you enact Option 2, then add some 5,800 cross country runners.
I get it’s not an easy decision.
But, what will happen if you delay or even cancel is really simple athletically — volleyball and soccer players will begin club ball in one way or another and those restrictions are far less what is being asked of them in high school.
What will happen to thousands of high school student-athletes off the field/court/trail is not so simple.
A survey of high school athletes across the country — completed by researchers from UW Health and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, physicians and child health experts — reported that “approximately 68 percent of the 3,243 student-athletes surveyed reported feelings of anxiety and depression at levels that would typically require medical intervention — that’s up 37 percent from past research studies.”
“The results of the study are both striking and concerning,” said Dr. Claudia Reardon, associate professor of psychiatry at University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in an article on uwhealth.org. “We know that exercise and physical activity are powerful antidepressant and anti-anxiety interventions, and we strongly encourage public health experts and school administrators to thoughtfully consider both the benefits and risks of prolonged school closures and sport cancellations. We hope that any plan moving forward addresses not only our kids’ physical health and safety, but their social development and emotional wellbeing as well.”
Approve the plan and leave it up to the local school districts.