By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) is getting lots of inquiries to one burning question on everyone’s minds – will there be sports in the fall? During a Zoom meeting with journalists statewide on the morning of Wednesday, July 8, Que Tucker, NCHSAA commissioner, gave some insight into the mindset of the thinking and planning going into a decision by the NCHSAA regarding sports in the current environment surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
“At this time…we do not know,” she said in addressing the overall question. “But, we promise that we will do the best we can to offer students the opportunity to get on the field and play the games that they enjoy and that they love. Our staff is working to craft new and innovative ways to accommodate schedule changes, to make tweaks that may be necessary to offer competitive opportunities during this current climate.”
Aug. 1 is the date set for practices to begin for traditional fall sports.
Tucker added, “We believe that the governor, unless he feels that conditions will allow students to return to some form of in-person learning safely, it is difficult to imagine that high school athletics will be able to resume any type of competition at our member schools. If it is unsafe for our students to be in school, then certainly the idea is that it would be unsafe for our students to be playing in those athletic venues.”
Some schools across the state have begun summer workouts while others have chosen to hold off. Tucker noted that the rules of the NCHSAA allow individual school districts to impose rules and policies that are “more restrictive” than the state rules. “We applaud our member schools for operating in what they believe to be in the best interest of their students and their communities as it relates to their health and safety.”
Tucker further noted, “We want our students back in the classroom which means that they can then be on the field and on the court. We will do everything in our power to make that a reality and to offer as much of a season as is safe and feasible for each of our sports and our teams.”
A decision has yet to be made for sports in-part because N.C. Governor Roy Cooper has yet to announce the state plans for school academics in the fall. Gov. Cooper is expected to announce his decision the week of July 13, and he will decide from three plans: Plan A: in-person classes with safety precautions; Plan B: limited capacity, altered student schedules; or Plan C: remote learning.
Tucker noted that the NCHSAA plans will mirror Gov. Cooper’s decision. “If it is Plan A, all of you know what the plan will be – we will start on time and we will do business as usual. If it is Plan B or if it is Plan C, then honestly what we’ll need to do will be to see what that means as it relates to numbers.”
Tucker said herself and the NCHSAA Board has been looking at various plans in preparation to decide. “So, we’ve got everything on the table – no lines really drawn in the sand right now except that we know that Aug. 1 is approaching quickly and so a decision will be made sooner rather than later. We’re not going to be rushed into a decision because it’s not fair to our students. It’s not fair to coaches.”