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Fall high school sports calendar pushed back at least 2 weeks

  • JAMM AQUINO / SEPTEMBER 28, 2019
                                Campbell wide receiver Titus Mokiao-Atimalala cuts between Punahou defensive back Alaka’i Gilman, right, and defensive back Jonah Henry during the first half of an Open Division high school football game.

    JAMM AQUINO / SEPTEMBER 28, 2019

    Campbell wide receiver Titus Mokiao-Atimalala cuts between Punahou defensive back Alaka’i Gilman, right, and defensive back Jonah Henry during the first half of an Open Division high school football game.

The fall sports season will be pushed back from two to four weeks, according to Hawaii High School Athletic Association Executive Director Christopher Chun. Chun confirmed the delay after the HHSAA committee met on Thursday to discuss proposals from leagues, including the Oahu Interscholastic Association.

The football start date for team practices was originally postponed to Aug. 17, with remaining fall sports to begin Aug. 31. The Hawaii State Department of Education announced on Friday extracurricular and co-curricular activities, including athletics, are scheduled to begin on Aug. 19. According to the announcement, “the date is subject to change as HIDOE continues to monitor the situation and guidance issued by health and government officials.”

This delay means football could start as early as Aug. 31 or perhaps as far down the road as Sept. 14. Football, wrestling and competitive cheer were grouped as “higher risk” sports by the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) in late spring.

With COVID-19 case numbers spiking across the country, Hawaii has experienced an increase in June and July. The questions about health and safety for public schools are intertwined with high school athletics. The postponement of the season’s start was no surprise, though, given the increased virus cases. There is no exact schedule for the public yet.

The extremely cautious nature of Phase 1 recommendations by the federation make it nearly impossible for those higher risk sports to hold practice, let alone play games.

Thursday’s meeting is just one more step toward reality or finality. The HHSAA had already confirmed earlier in the month that football would be pushed back as far as October, if necessary, to ensure the safety of players, coaches, staff, spectators — if any would be allowed — and everyone else involved on the field.

There will be many more steps.

“(The new schedules) will likely get changed again,” Chun noted.

States across the mainland are debating the merits of delays in the face of spiking numbers, particularly in Arizona, California, Texas and Florida. In Michigan, the governor asked two weeks ago for the high school association to consider moving football to the spring season.

The National Junior College Athletic Association has moved football season to spring. The Ivy League has called off football, leaving some wiggle room for a possible move to spring. The Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences have canceled nonconference games.

Coaches in the islands have expressed support for the decisions of the leagues and HHSAA. None has shown resistance to moving football and other higher risk sports to the spring. One big issue in that scenario is Title IX, whether girls sports would be treated equally if a boys sport gets more consideration.

Last week, MaxPreps ran a list of potential issues if football moved to the spring. From decreased roster sizes, lower attendance to smaller pools of referees, the problematic, unprecedented scenario is enough to put the kibosh on this level of change. Shrinking sports seasons, lessening risk with fewer games — and clusters — is the apparent blueprint for most, if not all, states. For now.

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