“If” and “when” have been the burning questions for all stakeholders of Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) athletics since the second week of March.
Expect those questions to be answered — in whole or in part — when the sanctioning body’s board of control convenes Tuesday morning.
The virtual meeting begins at 10 a.m. and will be available for live, public viewing at youtube.com/khsaatv.
Among the items on the agenda: Strategies for a potential, full-on resumption of high school sports in the state.
While limited workouts have been permitted since the final week of June, no games have been played since March 12, when the girls’ basketball Sweet 16 was suspended due to the initial outbreak of COVID-19.
Hopes for a restart come in the middle of a well-publicized second wave of coronavirus cases, one that spiked Kentucky’s number of diagnoses to more than 27,000.
Gov. Andy Beshear was expected Monday afternoon to announce new mandates in the continued fight with the virus, perhaps rolling back measured re-openings in segments of the economy.
In a July 14 position statement, the KHSAA reiterated its commitment to accept guidance from the governor and other public health leaders toward a safe reopening.
“We realize that it is an impossible task to please all parties involved,” the statement read.
Two previous board meetings set the stage for Tuesday’s long-awaited decision.
The KHSAA voted in June to waive the traditional summer “dead period,” a 15-day window during which coaches are not permitted to have any contact with prospective players, and all school facilities are off limits.
That has allowed teams to hold conditioning exercises with limited instruction — first in groups of 10 or fewer, eventually increasing to 50 — since June 15.
Team practices traditionally begin July 15, but earlier this month the KHSAA voted to forgo that full start for football, soccer, field hockey, cross country and volleyball until at least Aug. 3.
Of the six highest-profile autumn sports, only golf, due to its inherent set-up for social distancing and little to no contact, was allowed to start on time. Tryouts have been held around the state, with tournaments set to tee off this weekend.
Regardless of what happens Tuesday, the previous delay makes it highly unlikely that any of the other activities will play their first wave of games on the scheduled dates.
Soccer was to hold its initial regular-season contests on Aug. 10. Volleyball, cross country and field hockey tentatively were to start Aug. 17, with football season to launch Aug. 21.
Football, because of its large roster, high level of contact, and heavy fan base, arguably faces the most obstacles.
California, Nevada, Washington, New Mexico and Virginia high schools and several collegiate conferences, including the Ivy Legaue, have announced plans to play spring football.
While KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett previously indicated that all options are on the table, schedule clashes with baseball and lacrosse and the physical challenge of athletes playing two football seasons back-to-back make it an unlikely solution.
Seventeen other states, including Indiana, have announced plans to kick off football on time, with 14 more, headlined by traditional powers Georgia and Texas and our Tennessee neighbors, eyeing their start in September.
In its position statement, the KHSAA declared that its goals and objectives include “participant safety and risk minimization” as top priorities.
The proclamation also repeated the organization’s commitment to have all three 2020-21 sports seasons “in some way, shape, form, or fashion going forward.”
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.