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Punting the proverbial football: Board sends issue of fall sports for high schools back to KHSAA

By Mark Maynard
Kentucky Today

After an exhausting three and a half hour meeting, the Kentucky Board of Education punted the proverbial football back to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s Board of Control on Friday.

The BOE unanimously voted to send a letter urging the KHSAA to consider “additional consideration of alternative options for high-contact sports.”

It would include additional guidance, looking at what other states are doing and responding to the board’s concerns.

The Kentucky Board of Education voted Friday to leave the decision on future of fall sports in hands of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s Board of Control. (Crystal Hester Sports Photography)

KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett and Kentucky Health Director Dr. Steven Stack both spoke to the board at length. Stack’s health concerns seemed to strike a chord with the board.

“I’m not here to tell you, ‘Oh, people are going to die, so don’t play sports,’” Stack said. “I’m just here to say, ‘I don’t know if people will die. How comfortable are we all allowing sports to happen not knowing if this is going to be as big a problem as the early signals suggest it theoretically could be.’”

Stack also said that while COVID-19 may not have many lasting effects or fatal outcomes for children, it still poses a threat to others.

“Kids very much get the disease and spread the disease,” Stack said. “It’s not just about ‘kids don’t die.’ It’s about kids have a role to play in the bigger community, and what happens to all the other people around them in the community. That matters as well.”

Last week the KHSAA Board of Control had voted 16-2 to allow the fall sports season to start on Sept. 7 for some sports and Sept. 11 for high school football. Practices have been ongoing since Monday.

Gov. Andy Beshear voiced his displeasure with the decision on the day it was announced. He said he wouldn’t overrule but said it wasn’t a good or wise decision in his estimation.

As of now, or at least until the Board of Control schedules an emergency meeting and alters its ruling, it’s still game on in Kentucky. Of course, that could change.

Ohio, one of the border states, began playing high school football games Friday night with limited attendance.

Several superintendents said the conflicting message of not starting in-person classes until Sept. 28 but allowing sports to start sooner was unsettling with school boards and with some community members.

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