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MHSAA still looking at options for fall sports

The Mississippi High School Activities Association met Tuesday to discuss a variety of topics, including how fall sports might change due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Executive Director Don Hinton said no decision was made concerning if the fall sports schedule would be changed, and that at the moment the hope is the upcoming seasons will continue as originally planned.

The plan is to be sport specific when it comes to restarting sports in the fall, meaning there may be certain guidelines that apply to one sport and not another.

Football is considered a high-risk sport, so the restrictions for that activity may differ from volleyball, cross country and swimming.

The plan is for MHSAA leadership to reconvene on July 14 to look into more concrete solutions for fall sports.
However, because the situation with COVID-19 is so fluid Hinton said the organization is ready to adapt if needed.

“It’s been a wait and see situation. I’ve talked with other states on a daily basis, then we get reports from the health department and governor’s office and those change regularly,” Hinton said.

Summer high school activities were allowed to resume June 1 and many local programs have taken advantage of the restart to get the athletes back in shape while hosting practices and even some tryouts.

However, a big restriction in place that affected summer plans for multiple programs was the ban on competition between teams.

Hinton said the MHSAA wanted sports to be able to restart safely during the summer months, and one way of helping minimize risk was by prohibiting teams from competing with one another.

“Our main purpose in starting in the summer was to let the players get back to a sense of normalcy with their coaches and team. Obviously, there was greater concern about bringing two communities together and other areas of the state together,” Hinton said.

Another reason for the delay in a decision on fall sports is that it’s still unknown when school will start back up again and what that environment will look like.

It’s increasingly possible when students return to school in the fall the experience will be a mixture of a traditional school setting along with virtual school resources being a possibility.

That complicates things for athletics in a variety of ways, including deciding student participation and how grading will affect an athlete’s eligibility.

Due to all of these unknowns, Hinton said the MHSAA is waiting to see what the districts are planning on doing for education before deciding how athletics should progress.

“Let’s see what happens as they start planning on getting back to school. There’s going to be a risk in everything we do, and (we need to) mitigate risk and decrease risk,” Hinton said.