“Until this virus is given the respect it deserves to quiet down, introducing sports adds fuel to the fire,” warns Sports Medicine Advisory Committee Chairwoman.
Ignoring recommendations from its own medical advisory panel, which had called for delaying fall sports until at least the end of September, the board of directors of the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) voted to allow schools to start fall sports Monday, Aug. 24, with seasons, including football, starting Sept. 4.
The FHSAA’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) wanted athletics pushed back to at least Sept. 28. In fact, SMAC recommended no sports for the entire state until several weeks after the beginning of school. Many schools have delayed opening, although it appears most will start by Aug. 31.
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Likewise, the Athletic Directors Advisory Committee (ADAC) called for fall seasons to begin practice on Nov. 30, with games starting Dec. 14. Schools can opt out of fall sports altogether or withdraw from inter-school competition by Sept. 18.
SMAC guidelines call for communities to meet specific standards before local schools can compete against schools from other communities. The board will consider adopting these guidelines in coming weeks. Here are some of the guidelines:
• A seven-day rolling average for new coronavirus cases below 5 percent positivity for at least 14 days.
• An “Effective Reproduction Number.” According to SMAC Chairwoman Dr. Jennifer Maynard, this is a statistic projecting the number of expected infections from each positive case, which must be lower than one for at least 14 days.
- New cases per 100,000 in a population to be showing a downward trend for at least 14 days.
A Warning From SMAC
However, Maynard warned none of the state’s 67 counties have fewer than 10 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 in population and 24 counties would not meet that standard today.
“Until this virus is given the respect it deserves to quiet down, introducing sports adds fuel to the fire,” warned Maynard.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, who had lobbied FHSAA to get fall sports started as soon as possible, retweeted news reports of the vote with the hashtag #WeWantToPlay.