VHSL Officially Pulls Plug On Spring Sports; Fall Sports Remain In Limbo

0
The sounds of bats and clouds of dust will be absent as high school spring sports were officially canceled by the VHSL on Thursday. (Bill Turner photos)
The final thread of hope for high school spring sports athletes got officially cut Thursday in Charlottesville.
The Virginia High School League Executive Committee during its scheduled May meeting voted 31-0-1 to cancel all spring sports and activities for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year due to the ongoing threat posed by COVID-19.
High school spring sports with the VHSL includes baseball, softball, lacrosse, soccer, tennis and outdoor track and field.
“This extremely difficult decision was made knowing the great disappointment our student-athletes, academic activity participants, coaches, administrators, parents and their communities will experience,” VHSL Executive Director Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun noted. “We share those same feelings as well. We especially grieve with those senior athletes and activity participants who will not have an opportunity to represent their school or wear their school jersey one final time after years of hard work and dedication.”
The move was not unexpected and continued a winding road high schools have had to navigate since Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced on Monday, March 23 that all schools in the commonwealth would remain closed until the end of the academic year. Approximately 90 minutes later the VHSL followed suit with spring sports and activities. That included practices.
Initially, the VHSL considered extending the spring sports season into the summer with abbreviated schedules and playoff. But, that quickly looked doubtful after the entire picture was evaluated and numerous obstacles to that plan, including eligibility after graduation, semester waivers, the extension and cost of student insurance riders, summer travel teams, family vacations and early college enrollment for many high school seniors, surfaced.
Still, at that time, some form of resumption was held open as an option.
Rising fastballs from the softball circle and umpires making close calls will give way to empty fields the rest of the 2020 season.

“Any options for the spring sports season would require that COVID-19 no longer be a threat and pose no health risks to our student-athletes or to the public,” Haun added. “Sadly, the situation has not changed and has made it impossible to have a spring sports season without putting people at risk.”

“While we recognize the importance sports has on our students and communities, we need to follow all the regulations and recommendations from the Governor, the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC. Every decision we make, and will make looking forward, will be in the best interest of our student-athletes and the public. Safety will always be our number-one priority.”
With COVID-19 still resulting in significant new cases each day, the VHSL made no decision on the upcoming fall sports season. Practice for football and golf is scheduled to begin July 30th; volleyball and cross country on August 30th.
They noted that is going to depend on where the COVID-19 curve goes, what phase it’s in and when schools reopen. A lot of factors come into play before that decision is made, but it was pointed out that until schools reopen, you can’t play sports.
Considerations to move the fall sports season to spring 2021 or flip the fall and spring 2020-21 seasons failed to move forward after it was pointed out around 17,000 more students participate in spring sports versus fall sports, and spring sports, having already lost their 2020 season, could again be put in jeopardy this fall.
The Executive Committee, made up primarily by school principals, athletic directors and superintendents from across Virginia, along with VHSL officials, will meet again in June.
Bill Turner