Kentucky High School Athletic Association Commissioner Julian Tackett said his organization remains focused on preparing for a fall sports season in the commonwealth.
With the KHSAA’s Board of Control set to meet Friday to discuss guidelines for the remainder of July during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Tackett spent time Tuesday testifying for Kentucky’s Interim Joint Commission on Education before providing an update later Tuesday during a question-and-answer session on the Kentucky Department of Education’s Special Superintendents’ webcast.
“We are rolling toward having fall sports,” Tackett said on the KDE’s webcast. “Now what that looks like could change every day. I think, like every one of you, we’re all concerned about what we’re gonna see toward the end of July after this latest holiday weekend. So we’re kind of sitting on edge, but sitting on go.
“We’re trying to balance the tightrope between giving the kids the activity that they want and need, and also realizing that like it or not, it’s the best dropout prevention program our schools have. It’s the best get you involved program our schools have, outside of curriculum.”
Currently, Kentucky high schools are permitted to hold workouts and practices, with all activities limited to small groups after the KHSAA previously waived the annual two-week dead period in June. Tackett said it will soon be time to narrow that participation down to the fall sports.
“At some point the activity has to focus on this fall and not all 18 activities at once,” Tackett said. “It was very important a month ago, very important for the psychological well-being of the kids to get them back on campuses where possible and where safe and dealing with the coaches who many of them confide in like no one else. That’s been very, very helpful, but at some point it needs to back off and be the fall sports that we’re gonna have.”
Fall sports are slated to begin practice July 15. Golf opens its season on July 31, followed by soccer (Aug. 10), volleyball and cross country (Aug. 17) and football (Aug. 21).
The KHSAA continues to monitor adjoining states that are further ahead in restarting athletic competition, Tackett said.
“As of July 7th, it’s still not real clear,” Tackett said. “We are watching for data from states that started early. We know what’s going on in Iowa, where they play baseball and softball this summer – that’s their normal season. We have seen that happen, and they’ve probably experienced what we would call our likely short-term normal. And that is that they have had people play, and then all of a sudden have to shut down a couple weeks, come back and play, shut down a couple weeks – that’s actually the way the system’s supposed to work. We had two districts tell me yesterday that they have shut down their workouts temporarily because of a community outbreak.”
With fall practice in Kentucky slated to open just a week from Wednesday, schools will have to quickly adjust to any significant changes when the KHSAA’s Board of Control revises guidelines for athletics.
“That’s unfortunate timing, but you know what? I think if we came out and said you could or couldn’t do something, our people would adapt on the fly,” Tackett said. “The great thing that our school people have proven all spring and summer long is how adaptable you are. We will hopefully have a decision Friday on at least what we’re going to do for the next couple of weeks.”