Last week the Virginia High School League officially adopted the playoffs +1 schedule for the 2021 high school sports season.
The vote by the VHSL executive committee comes on the heels of a rally at the capitol in Richmond urging lawmakers along with the VHSL to start the season now. A mother of a high school quarterback at Stone Bridge High School organized the “Let them play” rally. It was her hope, along with other players, coaches and family members that the VHSL would change its stance on postponing sports until December.
The VHSL released their own statement in response to the rally saying they support the passion but that they are working to devise safe protocols on the return of high school sports.
Virginia is one of 17 states, along with the District of Columbia to push back the start of fall sports to 2021. As of last week 25 states had already kicked off their fall sports season with nine more planning to play sometime this fall. Several states have postponed fall sports, only to ultimately reverse course and re-implement the season, one of the many reasons the rally in Richmond was held.
States such as Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan and Delaware have all reversed course and voted to begin fall sports this fall instead of pushing them to spring.
Virginia has had no such luck with any changes to the schedule that VHSL put out. With the decision now voted on and everything settled, it appears there will be no reversing course.
Many of the decisions could be related to college football conferences reinstating their previously postponed seasons. The Big Ten, Mountain West and possibly other schools and conferences that announced earlier that they would not play football this fall have revisited the issue and voted to have football this fall. In a fluid situation such as COVID-19 these decisions have never been set in stone apparently and have caused headache for students, parents, coaches and many more involved living in a constant state of unknowns. Many high school student athletes have transferred or decided to forego their seasons to try and get ready for football at the next level.
While Virginia has put together what I will describe as the best schedule they could considering the circumstances, they are in the minority when it comes to starting fall sports. But it appears the pressure from the outside is not deterring the VHSL from their plan. While some states have had governors or other officials speaking in favor of or against the start of high school sports season, the VHSL’s executive committee has led Virginia from the start. Sure there have been conversations and guidance from the governor’s office, but the VHSL has been the ones that are making the decisions and communicating the entire time.
Dating back to March when things were first shut down it was VHSL executive director Dr. Billy Haun that was at the forefront. While a December start date isn’t far off now, it is still a waiting game to see if Halifax County will be able to begin then. As of now the schools are still closed. There is a school board meeting next week to possibly begin the first phase of letting students return but it is not set in stone that it will even pass.
Until most of if not all of the students return to school in person in Halifax County, we still don’t know if they will be allowed to participate in sports. It may be decided that every student in the county must be back in schools before that decision is made, but even though the VHSL has set a start date, Halifax County still cannot get excited about a return.
It was mentioned earlier that until Halifax students are back in schools there will be no training, practices or any other sort of gatherings. So as the calendar prepares to turn to October, there are still so many questions left unanswered and so many student athletes sitting at home wondering when they will ever get to play high school sports again? It has been a whirlwind these past 6 ½ months and we still aren’t as close as we would like to be when it comes to high school sports in Virginia and more specifically Halifax County.