There will be no high school sports played this fall in Oregon, the Oregon School Activities Association announced Wednesday afternoon.
As the state struggles to contain COVID-19, the activities association shuffled seasons, moving the traditional fall sports (football, volleyball, cross-country and soccer) into the spring, with shorter seasons starting in March.
“At this point, people will take something over nothing,” said Bend High football coach Matt Craven. “It was definitely what we expected to get, looking at how school districts in the last month have responded to the rising COVID numbers.”
All other sports seasons will be pushed back as well. Traditional winter sports (basketball, wrestling and swimming) will begin practices on Dec. 28. Traditional spring sports (track and field, softball, baseball, tennis and golf) will begin practicing April 19. All will compete in seven-week seasons.
“Today’s decisions by the Executive Board provide a framework to maximize the potential opportunity for students in Oregon to participate in three seasons during the 2020-21 school year,” said Peter Weber, OSAA executive director in a press release. “The Board recognized that a one size fits all approach isn’t what’s best for students across the state.”
There is a relief that there is now a plan in place after the spring seasons were canceled in April.
“I’m thankful that we still have the opportunity to compete this year, especially for my seniors,” said Ridgeview volleyball coach Randi Viggiano. “Some of my juniors had their basketball tournament end early, didn’t get a spring season. I’m just glad that there is still one more opportunity for my players to put on a Ridgeview uniform and compete for their school.”
Added Mountain View football coach Brian Crum: “It’s the best possible option we could have at this point. Anything that gives us an option is positive. Now we have something to prepare for.”
Seasons will not overlap under the new plan. Athletes can still compete in three different sports as they typically could have.
“They’re not forcing kids to choose one sport over another, which I think is really important in Oregon,” Craven said.
Dave Williams, the athletic director for the Bend-La Pine school district, said allowing students to play multiple sports is something school officials support.
“That is why the executive board did it this way by shortening the seasons quite a bit,” he said.
Much of the planning for restarting the sports season is tied to how each school district addresses its reopening of classrooms. Schools cannot reopen for in-person learning until the statewide COVID-19 test rate is at or below 5% for three straight weeks. Counties must have 10 or fewer cases per 100,000 over a seven-day period and a test positive rate of 5% or below for seven days.
“We like the plan. It is going to provide for our students, coaches and families to have seasons,” Williams said. “It’s not going to happen right now, but it gives us time to work through all this stuff and get back into school. The whole thing keys on returning to in-person school; if we aren’t in school when the first season comes, then it will be another decision time.”