Updated: GHSA postpones football two weeks; other sports on schedule

ajc.com

Credit: Daniel Varnado

Credit: Daniel Varnado

The Georgia High School Association’s board of trustees voted 12-0 on Monday to postpone football season until September but cancel no games.

Other fall sports, which are cross country, volleyball, fast-pitch softball and cheerleading, will remain on schedule.

The board’s decision means the football regular season will begin the week of Sept. 4 instead of Aug. 21, and state finals could be played Dec. 24-26 instead of Dec. 10-12, although the championship dates haven’t been officially reset.

‘‘We’re committed to having a full regular season and playoffs,‘’ said board member Steven Craft, also the athletic director of Fulton County Schools. “(GHSA executive director Robin Hines) and his staff will figure out the logistics of the playoffs. My experience is that if you’re playing for a state championship, you’ll show up anywhere, any day, any time.‘'

Glenn White, the GHSA president, asked a parent attending the meeting how she’d feel if her son’s team had a championship game Dec. 25. ‘‘Her response was that, ‘it would be the best Christmas present I ever got,’‘’ White said. ‘‘I think most families would be in the same mindset if they got to do that.‘'

The trustees first voted on a proposal to remain on schedule, but the vote failed 8-4. Jasper Jewell, a board member and the athletic director of Atlanta Public Schools, said he feared his school district might cancel fall sports if not given more time to prepare.

That in part prompted the consideration to delay.

White, who called Monday’s meeting, strongly pushed for retaining the full season and not canceling games.

‘‘There’s some issues, especially in metro Atlanta because of the population density and the number of COVID cases, where a lot of programs have shut down temporarily because of coaches or players who’ve been identified as testing positive, and we thought the best thing to do was give them a couple of weeks to recover,‘’ White said. “They may still be in that same situation (later), but my hope is that all of our students and schools will be able to play.‘'

Starting later keeps in place many high-profile inter-region games, including those in the Corky Kell Classic, which traditionally symbolizes the start of the news season in metro Atlanta. Corky Kell organizers confirmed they’re still planning their four-day event starting Wednesday, Sept. 2.

The start of mandatory practices will remain the same. Football can begin July 27 with a week of acclimation without pads. Full practices begin Aug. 1 in football and other fall sports.

August scrimmage games haven’t been approved but could be moved back two weeks, as well. That determination will be made by Hines and his sports advisory committee, which meet Wednesday.

The surprise Monday was only that the decision came immediately and not later in the week. White and other board members had expressed doubt that a vote would take place at the specially called meeting in Thomaston.

But the delay follows a trend that could accelerate with Georgia’s decision.

Georgia’s decision came on a day with another big state, California, decided to move football and its other fall sports to December or January. South Carolina and North Carolina postponed their fall seasons into September last week.

‘‘I wanted to keep the 10 (regular-season) games for all schools because they’re very dependent on playing those games for income, especially those that don’t make the playoffs,‘’ White said. “So that was my goal, to keep all 10 games. We all agreed that was important.‘'

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