BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - School administrators, teachers and parents are all preparing to head back to class next month. At the same time, athletic officials are going over options when it comes to the return of high school sports.
WLOX talked Wednesday with Don Hinton, executive director of the Mississippi High School Activities Association. He said the MHSAA is planning on meeting next week to discuss fall sports.
While football is the biggest sport played during the fall in high schools, the MHSAA will also be looking at other activities.
“Football in the fall is the main thing... Cheerleading is also high risk,” said Hinton. “We have some low risk sports in the fall like cross country, swimming and volleyball... Cheer and dance.. Band is another thing that we’ll have to look at. There’s going to be risks. There’s already risks every year with participating in football, especially participating in Mississippi in the heat. But we’ll take each one of those sports and activities... and look at them individually. Specifically, do we start them at the same time, what are we able to do at each one? We want to make sure we can play them all.”
Some of the things that will be discussed at that meeting include whether or not moving sports seasons is a viable possibility.
“There’s even been some talk about moving sports seasons around,” said Hinton. “Hopefully, that will be an option because we took sports away from our spring participants... and if we move them away from the fall and they aren’t able to play, that would affect them tremendously again. So we hope that’s not something that we have to do.”
One of the major issues the MHSAA is looking at next week is what happens if a player tests positive for the virus.
“We’ll get into will we quarantine the whole offensive line because of one individual or do we just quarantine that one individual? Those are the kind of questions that we’ll have to answer,” said Hinton.
The decisions they are making are ones that are tough but minimizing the risks to students and staff are what the association is focusing on.
“We’ve been doing this since March with so much uncertainty that’s been out there, it’s been hard to make decisions,” said Hinton. “We have some great people - like our school admins - that are representing our schools on committees and boards. We have sports advisory committees, both national and statewide, that have been just tremendous in providing information and helping us to make it thru the decision-making process.”
Gov. Reeves has said that the choice on returning to school is being left up to individual districts, at the guidance of the Mississippi Department of Education. Hilton said the MHSAA is doing the same.
“So our take is (state leaders) are going to trust us to make the decisions as far as our high school sports are considered,” he said. “I assure them and everyone else, we want our young people getting back into school. We know the value of participation in sports and activities, and again, we want to make sure we make sound decisions and we’re very sure of what we’re doing in the fall.”