SCHSL postpones vote on appeal to shift sports seasons

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By CINDY CROSBY

cindyc4@yahoo.com

The South Carolina High School League Appellate Panel met last week to consider an appeal from Lexington County School District One pertaining to the 2020-21 SCHSL Sports Calendar. After lengthy discussion, the Appellate Panel determined more information was needed on Lexington One’s plan, therefore, postponed the vote until August 10. Public schools, including Colleton High School, are governed by SCHSL decisions.

The appeal came after a 16-1 vote by the SCHSL on July 15 against the proposal. Lexington One’s proposal essentially flipped sports seasons — moving traditional fall sports to the spring and shifting spring sports to the fall (see below) due to COVID-19. According to Lexington One’s representatives presenting the plan to the SCHSL, the plan followed recommendations from the National Federation of State High School Associations on which sports are considered to be at a lower risk versus higher risk for exposure to COVID-19 (see information box).

In a SCHSL release on Wednesday July 15, Commissioner Jerome Singleton stated, “After much discussion amongst the Appellate Panel, Lexington School District One representatives and League staff, the panel decided that more information was needed to vote on the matter at hand. It is our hope that this issue will be settled on August 10th during the next Appellate Panel meeting. Until then, we are moving forward with the SCHSL plan which was previously voted on by the executive committee. We are operating full steam ahead into fall sports with practicing guidelines set in place previously. Following CDC and DHEC health and safety procedures are the first and most important step to getting our students back in the game.”

The current SCHSL plan (subject to change due to the pending Lexington One appeal to be reheard and approved or rejected August 10 by the SCHSL Appellate Panel) calls for the first day of fall practice for all sports to be August 17. Should the Lexington One appeal be granted, just seven days would remain between the decision and the start of the fall season — meaning traditional spring sports (baseball, softball, cross-country, etc.) would have one week to organize and begin practicing.

According to the SCHSL, until a decision is made by the Appellate Panel, member schools should follow the tentative plan for traditional fall sports to move the start date from July 31st to August 17th for first day of practice for all sports, with the start date to be reviewed within one week prior to determine if it is possible to start on that specific date. If determined that it is not possible, then the anticipated start date will be moved/delayed to no less than one week from the original start date. Each time the start date is moved/delayed, the length of the sports season as well as the playoffs would have to be evaluated to determine the best option for each sport.

To date, the following states will not play football this fall: California, District of Columbia, Nevada, New Mexico, Virginia, and Washington.

Lexington’s appeal

Under the Lexington County District One proposal, the seasons would be divided into:

▪ Fall Sports (Sept. 21-Nov. 17): Girls tennis, baseball, softball, girls lacrosse, girls golf, and boys/girls swimming and cross country. Golf and swimming would be from Sept. 7-Oct. 30. Girls tennis would have 12 regular-season matches. Baseball and softball would have 16 regular-season games. Girls lacrosse would have 12 games, girls golf eight matches and four meets for swimming. There would be five meets for cross country.

▪ Winter Sports (Nov. 23-Jan. 29): Girls and boys basketball and spirit cheer. The boys and girls basketball seasons would each have 16 regular-season games.

▪ Spring Sports I (Jan. 25-April 2): Football, volleyball, competitive cheer. Football would play six regular-season games, volleyball 12 matches and four competitions for competitive cheer.

▪ Spring Sports II (March 22-May 28): Boys/girls soccer, boys tennis, wrestling, track, boys lacrosse track and boys golf. Soccer and tennis would each have 12 matches, wrestling eight matches, five track meets, 12 lacrosse games and eight golf matches.

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) gave guidance in mid-May for opening high school athletics and activities based on risks associated with exposure to COVID-19. The following sports were classified as “high, medium or low:” Higher Risk: Sports that involve close, sustained contact between participants, lack of significant protective barriers, and high probability that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants. (Examples: wrestling, football, boys lacrosse, competitive cheer, dance) Moderate Risk: Sports that involve close, sustained contact, but with protective equipment in place that may reduce the likelihood of respiratory particle transmission between participants or intermittent close contact OR group sports OR sports that use equipment that can’t be cleaned between participants. (Examples: basketball, volleyball*, baseball*, softball*, soccer, water polo, gymnastics* (if equipment can’t be sufficiently cleaned between competitors), ice hockey, field hockey, tennis*, swimming relays, pole vault*, high jump*, long jump*, girls lacrosse, crew with two or more rowers in shell, 7 on 7 football. *Could potentially be considered “Lower Risk” with appropriate cleaning of equipment and use of masks by participants) Lower Risk: Sports that can be done with social distancing or individually with no sharing of equipment or the ability to clean the equipment between use by competitors. (Examples: individual running events, throwing events (javelin, shot put, discus), individual swimming, golf, weightlifting, alpine skiing, sideline cheer, single sculling, cross country running with staggered starts.)

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