Sometimes change is difficult. But in this unprecedented time of a global pandemic, all options should be on the table.
Of course we want all sports back. But just focusing on fall sports, in particular football, I think I speak for most when I say that we should play it whenever it’s safe to play it. If that means moving the football season to spring, with the regular season starting in March, so be it.
The Arizona Interscholastic Association may get to that point. It hasn’t yet.
At the same token, if it is deemed safe enough to play football in the fall with a reduced schedule, I’m for that as well. But I have my doubts, especially considering the dire state of affairs with COVID-19 ravaging Arizona.
On Friday afternoon, the AIA issued a press release that covered a few issues related to when the fall sports season is expected to begin.
The start of the school year has already been pushed back until at least Aug. 17 by Gov. Doug Ducey. That means all school-related athletic activities are also suspended until that date, at the earliest.
While some states, including neighboring New Mexico, have already moved football to the spring, the AIA is holding out hope that the season can still be completed in the fall.
“Preliminary plans are in place to finish all fall sports seasons on time and in full with modifications,” the AIA said in a statement. “Some of these ideas, among others, will be taken to the leadership of each conference as decisions would need to be made for who would qualify for the postseason and how many schools per sport.”
The AIA now expects to start the 2A-6A football season the week of Sept. 7. The schedule is expected to be between eight to 10 regular season games, with plans for a modified playoff structure yet to be decided. Plans for 1A football will be discussed separately.
Other non-contact fall sports are scheduled to begin earlier. Golf is expected to start Aug. 24, with badminton beginning a week later on Aug. 31.
Sept. 7 is an interesting date because it’s what Randy Robbins has been talking about for at least a month. Robbins, the athletic director at Casa Grande Union, told PinalCentral more than once that he wanted to move the season back until the first or second week of September.
He felt that way for several reasons, including to level the playing field with how much preparation time teams had for the season.
He had that opinion even before Arizona’s COVID-19 numbers spiked to outrageous levels, with the largest per-capita positive testing rate of any state in the nation.
But I spoke to Robbins earlier this week, and he is very concerned about whether or not sports can move forward in the current climate. He wants sports to happen as badly as anyone, but he is also realistic.
It may be that moving football to the spring is a last resort, but it can be done. If volleyball needs to be moved to the spring, that can be worked out as well.
But if we don’t start seeing some drastic improvement in Arizona’s COVID-19 numbers, sports won’t happen at all.
If you want to see sports this year, wear a mask, practice social distancing, follow proper precautions and be safe. We have to protect each other in order to get a handle on this virus, and it has to be a team effort.