Updated: Oregon high school sports delayed until January
The calendar for the 2020-21 Oregon high school sports season is here — but it won't include any contests in 2020.
The Oregon School Activities Association shifted its traditional fall-season sports contests to begin in March under a new 2020-21 school activities calendar approved by the association's executive board on Wednesday, Aug. 5.
"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 OSAA Executive Director Peter Weber. "The board recognized that a one-size-fits-all approach isn't what's best for students across the state. By waiving policy to allow regional participation this fall, local school districts will have the discretion for participation in those areas that are able to do so safely per state directives."
While there are definitely some downsides to the new plan, there is at least a plan and some level of certainty going forward for Oregon's high school athletes, their coaches, parents, families, classmates and fans.
"I think the very positive thing is (the decision) removes all the emotion from it," said West Linn High School Athletic Director Brigham Baker. "At least we're getting to have three seasons of sports, right? … I think we're in a really good spot. You know, it's not ideal, but I don't know that anybody's living their ideal life right now."
"Honestly, it's kind of what I thought we would be doing just because of what Washington did and what California did," said Bryan Sorenson, athletic director at Beaverton's Mountainside High School. "And what I am glad about is they kept the sports together within the same season."
Winter season sports
Under the OSAA's plan, the first sports of the year would include swimming, wrestling and boys and girls basketball. Those sports would begin with practices on Dec. 28 and the first contests on Jan. 11, 2021. These four traditional winter-season sports would continue on to postseason competition in the week of March 1 to 7.
Athletes would be limited to the following number of contests in this season: Swimming, eight meets; wrestling, nine events; and basketball, 14 games.
Fall season sports
The second season — the traditional fall-season sports — includes boys and girls cross country, volleyball, boys and girls soccer and football. It opens for practices on Feb. 22 with the first contests set the week of March 8 to 14 and the postseason scheduled for April 26 to May 2.
The exception there is football, which is scheduled to open play the week of March 15 to 21 and to continue with regular-season games before heading into playoffs in the week of May 3 to 9.
Athletes would be limited to the following number of competitions in this season: Cross country, nine meets; volleyball, 14 playing dates; soccer, 10 games; and football, seven games.
Spring season sports
The third season — spring season sports including boys and girls golf, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track, baseball and softball — opens with practices beginning on April 19 and the first contests set for May 3.
Play would continue until June 20, with postseason contests due from June 21 to 27.
Athletes would be limited to the following number of competitions in this season: Golf, 14 nine-hole rounds; tennis, 12 playing dates; track and field, nine meets; baseball, 18 games; and softball, 18 games.
The new calendar also sets competition and championship dates for activities, including cheerleading, dance/drill, speech, solo music, choir and band/orchestra.
Competition and postseason dates for each of those include: cheerleading (Feb. 22-March 7/April 12-18), dance/drill (March 29-May 4/May 5-11), speech (April 5-18/April 19-25), solo music (April 12-25/April 26-May 2), choir (April 19-May 2/May 3-9) and band/orchestra (April 26-May 9/May 10-16).
"There's still so many unknowns, unfortunately, but what is nice is they didn't delay it a week or two weeks … because it just puts everybody in limbo and everybody gets a little antsy," Sorenson said. "I was kind of hoping they would throw it way out there, just because the day-to-day, week-to-week thing was really getting old. And hopefully, at the beginning of next year, we'll be in a better place."
"It's unfortunate for the OSAA because there's no right answer," Baker said. "You'll get the armchair quarterbacks who say 'I would have done this. I would have done that.' But the fact of the matter is, we're looking at our individual schools and they have to serve over 300 schools. … So, I think it's good to have a plan now."
The board also voted to waive current out-of-season coaching policies to allow student participation — potentially practice games or scrimmages — during the fall.
Fall participation also may include conditioning and practices in those permitted activities provided schools adhere to OSAA policies. Participation in those activities will be at the discretion of the local school district in concordance with directives from the governor's office, Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education.
The executive board took this action following last week's release of school reopening health metrics by the governor's office and the Health Authority.
The OSAA release continues: "These metrics will result in nearly all OSAA member high schools starting in a Comprehensive Distance Learning format this fall, which presents challenges for the resumption of school activities. Shifting the season calendar later in the school year provides additional time for more schools to return to a hybrid or on-site learning format while providing flexibility for local school districts to make decisions this Fall that are best for their school communities as health metrics and state guidance in this area continues to develop."
Each of the three sports seasons feature a seven-week regular season, followed by an OSAA culminating week. Specific plans for culminating week events will be developed in conjunction with member schools in the coming months in alignment with large group gathering guidelines issued by the state.
Readers can see more information at osaa.org/coronavirus, and can see the adopted 2020-21 OSAA School Activities Calendar here.
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