COVID-19 proves to be biggest competitor
July 26, 2020
UIL announces delay to fall sports for 5A-6A
Player, coach, administrator give perspective on decision
Modified UIL Activities Calendar & COVID-19 Guidelines for 2020-2021 School Year
Press Release ⬇️https://t.co/sv3boFOD43
Full COVID-19 Risk Mitigation Guidelines ⬇️https://t.co/o3qFFIZxrF
— Texas UIL (@uiltexas) July 21, 2020
UIL announced that sports will be delayed for the fall 2020 semester. For 5A-6A districts, football games are delayed to a Sept. 24 start, while volleyball games are delayed until Sept. 14. However, Cross country, tennis, and marching band can compete, starting Sept. 7.
“UIL is tasked with making difficult decisions for all student athletes across Texas,” said lone finalist and soon-to-be new superintendent Dr. Holly Ferguson. “They have proven to continue to base their decisions on facts while also remembering how many student athletes, coaches, and parents are depending on them to do their best. They have proven throughout the presence of the virus that they are up for the challenge.”
With the new announcement, seniors said they are left feeling upset, but are trying to stay hopeful about a possible chance to play after the delay.
“While I’m disappointed we won’t start on time, I’m happy and optimistic that we’ll have a season,” senior volleyball player Sami Jacobs said. “We have a great chance to go far in playoffs this year, and I just want to play one last time with this team.”
Although coaches across the state have noted discouragement, head football coach Brandon Schmitd, said this delay could benefit his team.
“We are very excited,” Schmitd said. “To still have the opportunity to play a full season is awesome. The delayed start will be beneficial for a lot of programs. It will allow us the ability to make up some of the time lost by not having spring football.”
Besides games being pushed back, practices are also delayed. Students are finding creative ways to keep themselves prepared.
“I’ve been going to Prosper’s strength and conditioning camp weekly, working out at home and trying to get into the gym as much as I can to get touches on the ball,” Jacobs said.
Although Prosper students and staff said they look forward to sports, safety is still a priority, Ferguson said. So, the district will continue to follow established guidelines set in place to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
“Our students and staff are always a top priority, and we have implemented specific cleaning routines in our facilities as well as following all of the guidelines set forth by local, state, and federal agencies,” Ferguson said. “Our staff has truly stepped up to the plate to reinforce the importance of social distancing and keeping groups together and not mixing students to support health and safety for all.”
UIL Medical Advisory committee struggles to set guidelines as sports seasons begin
Members of the Texas University Interscholastic League Medical Advisory Committee admitted in their virtual meeting held over Zoom today, Aug. 7, that they are struggling to put together a set of rules for high school athletes due to the constantly-updating COVID-19 information.
“The purpose of the Medical Advisory Committee is to examine the health and safety of students involved in interscholastic activity participation,” according to the UIL official website. “It is the goal of the committee to work cooperatively with the UIL Standing Committees and the UIL Legislative Council to address sports medicine issues as they impact rules and the health and safety of participants.”
Head volleyball coach and assistant campus athletic coordinator Erin Kauffman said coaches are following the directions of school trainers and nurses.
“I expect all medical-related stuff to go through and come from our trainers and our school nurse, as they are the experts,” Kauffman said. “Whatever they say, we do.”
UIL Medical Advisory Committee members said that their role is not to intrude on athletes’ and students’ physicians, and doctors have the final say on whether students are safe to go back to school after a Covid-19 diagnosis.
“We shouldn’t be in the business of telling physicians what they need to do to clear them (athletes),” member Arnold Fenrich said. “They should just be referred to their primary care professional or their physician. They should clear them depending on what the guidelines are at the time because they may change, and we can’t be constantly updating that.”
The group met to discuss how medical procedures will be covered for the 2020-2021 sports year. Any decisions the advisory committee makes could affect Prosper’s “Athletes return to campus plan” and other policies.
“The policies in our plan are designed to minimize risk for you (athletes) and others,” Prosper Independent School District said in its official ‘return to campus plan.’ “It is vital to the health and safety of everyone that our athletes and staff are fully conscious of this at all times and take responsibility for following these guidelines and taking them seriously.”
Kauffman said coaches are following the guidelines and participating in social distancing, sanitation and wearing face coverings.
“We are making sure the girls have their masks on when not actively playing volleyball,” Kauffman said. “We are attempting to socially distance ourselves as much as possible, disinfecting the balls after every practice, urging anyone who feels sick to stay home, not allowing the girls to use their lockers, just utilizing their locker room as a changing room, and they will bring their bags into the gym, no sharing of water bottles. And, we purchased face masks and travel hand sanitizer for every girl and coach in our program.”
The UIL Medical Advisory Committee members indicated that they did not all feel comfortable establishing hard guidelines at this time.
“We’re on unproved waters right now as it is. We’re really going to have to see what national standards are going to be, so we can keep in line,” committee member Cary Tanamachi said. “It’s going to be hard to set down guidelines when we really don’t know what’s going to happen. There are so many intricacies that go on with this Covid-19 situation.”
Committee members said they are relying on individual school boards to make the final decision on how Covid-19 diagnosis will be handled.
“This is going to be a work in progress,” Tanamachi said. “Unfortunately, there’s going to be trial and error, and there’s going to be some problems because we’ve got so many different-sized school districts. But, that’s kind of where we’re really relying on our committee of education for each individual school district.”
The committee also noted the abundance of information to examine.
“There’s so many guidelines now to go through,” Tanamachi said. “They’re going to hopefully be able to sort some of that out, but right now, for us to set down guidelines to go by, I think that’s just not going to be an appropriate thing to do because it’s a moving target.”
Fenrich said the complications other leagues are facing may indicate troubles ahead for high school athletes.
“I think it’s going be really difficult to even have high school sports or school sports if the pro sports are having a really tough time continuing to play because of COVID positive patients, and they have unlimited resources and medical personnel to evaluate and treat their players,” Fenrich said. “I can’t imagine how that’s going to be able to work in schools where kids may go days before they realize they have COVID. In the meantime, they’ve spread it to multiple other teammates and classmates.”
For more information, check out other area coverage:
UIL medical advisory committee passes motion for COVID-19 return to play protocol https://t.co/RyHH5OpEoQ
— Fort Worth Star-Telegram (@startelegram) August 7, 2020
Editorial: Athletes deserve voice in season changes
Big 10 and Pac 12 are the first large, well-known conferences to announce their plans for the 2020 fall sports season. Within hours, people started voicing their opinions, some in support and some not. It made sense that college football would be cancelled in the midst of a global pandemic. It made sense to the coaches, too, considering the vote for cancellation was 12-2. But, after taking a closer look, this decision may have bigger consequences than upset sports fans.
First of all, athletes should be contacted before decisions are made that affect their futures.
It’s important to understand what led to making this decision. Even before the announcement was made, players from the Pac-12 started the “#WeAreUnited” movement to voice their concerns on how COVID-19 was being handled. They made an attempt to call out how the conference had handled the health, well-being and financial situation of athletes.
After their announcement, most athletes were not shocked, but instead, they noted disappointment. After scrambling for weeks to get things in order, it was obvious cancelling was the best decision for the conference. But, they did it without contacting the affected athletes. The Pac-12’s decision shows it’s time for a change in college athletics. Athletes deserve a voice, and their health should be prioritized, always. The way they were treated during the making of this decision is completely uncalled for. Keeping them in the dark and not communicating is the easiest way to lose trust with athletes. Luckily, Pac-12 has said athletes will be allowed to obtain their scholarships and stay on campus, with access to academic and well-being support. Unlike the Pac-12, the Big 10 didn’t release specifics on what schools will continue to provide for players, but many individual schools issued official statements. Ohio State, Wisconsin and Minnesota stated athletes will remain on scholarship and are welcome to stay on campus with academic support, health insurance, and performance training.
Although it may seem like a temporary setback for football players, this is not the case for other athletes whose sports didn’t just get cancelled, but cut. Stanford is a good example as they were forced to cut 11 varsity sports after having their football season cancelled. Fencing, field hockey, sailing, and men’s volleyball were all cut for the 2020 sports season. It may seem unlikely, but football and men’s volleyball are more connected than we think. When football is cut, so are its fundings. And most of those funds roll over to support smaller sports such as rowing and sailing. Colleges are put in a tough situation in having to decide what sports should stay. It’s unfortunate that smaller varsity sports are so underfunded that they have no other option. This is a wake-up call for schools to start paying attention to sports other than football, basketball and women volleyball.
In conclusion, the recent announcements from the Pac-12 and Big 10 show what major changes need to be made in the world of college athletes. The well-being of athletes should come first, always. In all sports, not just football and basketball. Let this be a year of growth and revision in the sports world. Conferences and the powers that control them cannot continue to break the backs of athletes for the benefit of the business.
Sports Brief: Athletic director says coaches, athletes continue following COVID-19 plan
In spite of challenges created by a hybrid-learning school start as well as heightened care protocols placed on athletic teams, athletics director Valerie Little said she is impressed by how her coaches and athletes have followed the guidelines to stay safe.
“I think, and this may sound negative, but it’s been so much better than I expected,” Little said. “Because, for the most part, we will follow rules. We do what we’re supposed to.”
If an athlete is diagnosed with COVID-19, they and anyone they were around for more than 15 minutes without a mask, will be quarantined for 14 days.
“First thing we do is report it to the school nurse,” Little said. “Our campus nurse handles all of those cases. Once they are positive and school is in session, they talk with the assistant principal. They talk with our athletic trainer, and then they go back and do contact tracing and see every single person that athlete was around.”
Little points out that this also presents an additional challenge for athlete and coach relationships.
“That’s where that hard balance is,” Little said. “You’re supposed to build a relationship with your coach, but they’re harping on you the whole time about wearing your mask.” You’re frustrated. They’re frustrated, so it’s been hard to find that balance. But, because kids have been so good about wearing them it hasn’t been an issue.”
After months of study, the district released its plan for back to school policies, Which are designed to ensure the safety of coaches and athletes.
“We’ve got a 25-page plan of what they do, what the process looks like, and because I think we spent so much time on that, they are following it, and it is working pretty well right now,” Little said. “I truly think our coaches and kids have been unbelievable with it, we haven’t had to fight it too much.”
While Prosper is one of the few districts with face-to-face learning and athletics, Little said she is confident in the district’s coaches, athletes and policies.
“I think you just have to be intentional when you come up with your policies and think about everything and go ‘when a kid comes in, what does that look like?'” Little said. “But day-to-day, as long as you know that your people are following the policies, it’s not that nerve-wracking. But, there are a lot of people that are just waiting for us to fail.”