The high school football season has yet another new start date.
The South Carolina High School League unanimously approved an amendment to its plan that will delay the start of full high school football practice to Sept. 8 and the start of the season to Sept. 25.
The plan keeps in place the Aug. 17 start date for practices in girls golf, swimming and boys tennis. Sept. 8 will be the practice start date for volleyball and cheer.
SCHSL commissioner Jerome Singleton said further delays are possible as the coronavirus pandemic develops. He emphasized once again SCHSL’s need to depend on the state Department of Health and Environmental Control for recommendations and data.
The football season under SCHSL’s plan will be seven games. The committee made an amendment Wednesday to truncate the playoffs this season. Only the top two region finishers will make the playoffs, eliminating one round of the playoffs.
State championships in football will be played Dec. 4-5. Singleton said the site for those games have not been determined.
During the press conference after the meeting, Singleton said reducing the regular season to six games could be a possibility. Some regions, however, would need seven games to complete the region schedule.
“If we move it to six, we may have to figure out some adjustments,” Singleton said. “Right now, we need seven weeks for everyone to have a chance to play everyone in their region.”
The girls golf state championships will go ahead Oct. 26-27. Swimming state championships are set for Oct. 10-12. The girls tennis state championship is set for Oct. 31. Cross country’s state championship will take place Oct. 30-31.
Since May, school districts have been allowed to have workouts under Phase 1 guidelines. The SCHSL recently decided to move into “Phase 1.5,” which allows slightly larger groups and the use of shared equipment such as footballs or volleyballs.
The decision to further delay the start of the season came after a meeting July 15, in which SCHSL approved its plan that originally placed the start of full football practice Aug. 17 and the start of the season Sept. 11. Singleton said meeting regularly to confirm a start date would be part of the plan.
An appeal by Lexington School District 1 to postpone football season to spring and place low-risk sports in the fall was dropped Monday.
If contests go ahead, will spectators be allowed?
Singleton said he is putting together a task force that will submit a proposal to the Department of Commerce that will ask to limit the number of spectators at an event to 200 people.
The executive committee also approved votes to require coaches to take the National Foundation of High School Sports’ COVID-19 education course and to eliminate penalties for cancellations for coronavirus reasons.
Singleton often referred to the uncertainty regarding schools reopening that will influence whether sports will be viable in the fall. He said extreme situations such as outbreaks or school closings could force sports to be postponed to spring or canceled altogether.
The end Wednesday’s press conference, Singleton once again emphasized the need for athletes and coaches to participate in social distancing and mask-wearing to give the SCHSL a chance to allow competition.
“Our office can’t make this virus go away,” Singleton said.