VHSL will announce sports and activities plan for 2020-21 on July 27

Lord Botetourt coach Jamie Harless

Chances for having high school football this fall have become slim and none, and Slim was reportedly seen leaving the locker room with bags packed.

The VHSL Executive Committee met in special session on Wednesday, July 15, for the purpose of discussing the fall sports season.  The Executive unanimously voted (35-0-0) to meet on Monday, July 27, to vote on the three recommended models presented at the meeting for reopening sports and activities. The Committee also voted to delay the beginning of fall sports until a final decision is made on July 27. The Committee also suspended the July-August dead period for 2020 which means schools can continue out-of-season practice activities.

“It’s important to remember that in all these models playing sports in the high risk category depends on being out of the current Phase III guidelines,” said VHSL Executive Director Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun. “All our efforts will continue towards advocating for the opening of sports and activities in a safe and reasonable way that will protect athletes, activity participants, coaches, officials, and the public. The VHSL will continue making judgments based on the best available information and directives provided by the Governor, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).”

Shannon Butler, VHSL executive committee chairwoman and principal at York High School, said, “The goal in all our discussions has been to provide our student-athletes and activity participants the best opportunity to return to the playing fields, courts, track, and stages during this school year in a safe environment as possible.

“Our decision today will allow members of the executive committee to collaborate with the regions and groups that they represent to make a decision on July 27 that is in the best interest of our students; moving forward – our ultimate goal would be to have all of our student athletes the opportunity to safely represent their schools on the playing field during the 2020-2021 school year”

The three models presented to the Executive Committee for the opening of sports and activities were presented, and none of them include football in the fall. The three models are as follows.

Model 1 – Leave all sports in current season. Low and moderate contact risks sports that would be allowed to play are golf and cross country. High risk sports that would not be played are field hockey, football, volleyball, and cheer. Fall activities that would be allowed is theatre.

Model 2 – Switch Fall and Spring seasons. Low and moderate contact risk sports that would be allowed to play in the fall are track and field, tennis, soccer, baseball, and softball. High risk sports that would not be played are boys/girls lacrosse. Spring activities that would be allowed are theatre, forensics/debate, and film festival

Model 3 – Delay all VHSL sports and adopt the Condensed Interscholastic Plan.  Leave all sports in the season where they are currently aligned.

Season 1 (Winter) December 14 – February 20 (First Contest Date – December 28)

Season 2 (Fall) February 15 – May 1 (First Contest Date – March 1)

Season 3 (Spring) April 12 – June 26 (First Contest Date – April 26)

James River football coach Tim Jennings [PHOTOS: Brian Hoffman]
None of the three models includes football in the fall. Unless things change for the better in the next week, Lord Botetourt coach Jamie Harless prefers Model 2.

“I prefer option 2 with a contingency that we could move to option 3 if there was a cancelation of the Fall model.”

James River football coach Tim Jennings prefers to go with Model 3 right off the bat, so to speak.

In my opinion, it’s the only equitable option,” he said. “All three seasons have the opportunity to compete. The shortened season isn’t great, but it at least allows for a season. If they flip Fall and Spring, Spring could miss out again for a second year. There isn’t a “fair” option for anyone – all three have something in them that would negatively impact a sport or sports. I just want the kids to have a safe opportunity to participate.”

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