Remember the days when people complained about the LHSAA not making decisions or offering leadership during the coronavirus pandemic? That was so last week. Literally.
Amazing how things can change in just a few days.
The LHSAA executive committee made multiple major decisions Wednesday. Yes, the football season will begin a week earlier than expected. And yes, the LHSAA’s select/nonselect schools will play title games at the same venues again, but just for 2020-21.
And now comes news that Louisiana will enter Phase 3 of COVID-19 reopening this weekend.
Still trying to figure out what happened and how we got here? Let me break it down.
I will warn you in advance, guidance on the numbers of spectators allowed at LHSAA events continues to evolve and remains dependent on state guidelines. The good news here is that Phase 3 allows for more spectators and more entrants for fall cross country meets. No, I can’t list numbers.
Now on to what we do know. After last Friday’s meeting of the minds at the House Education Committee meeting at the State Capitol, a clear path for what the LHSAA needed to do was set.
The first order of business for the LHSAA executive committee Wednesday was to approve moving forward with football contact drills and the season, regardless of Louisiana’s reopening phase.
That decision was unanimous, thanks to the opinion rendered by Attorney General Jeff Landry last week. Landry’s opinion was that the LHSAA and its schools faced no added COVID-19 liability based on Act 9, which became a law in June.
That was supposed to be the big news of the day. Contact football practices Thursday … hooray. But the LHSAA’s executive committee seized the momentum after a presentation by Tulane’s Dr. Greg Stewart and moved the football season up to Oct. 1-3 instead of Oct. 8-10. Stewart acknowledged that LHSAA football schools have done heat acclimation for more than a month with shoulder pads and helmets.
So Stewart reduced the number of contact acclimation days in full gear from 21 to 10-14 days. With that knowledge, the LHSAA executive council went into executive session and hammered out a plan to start the season a week earlier.
Moving the season up a week gives football schools all they wanted — eight regular-season games and full 32-team playoff brackets for nonselect schools.
Call it an after-Christmas gift, since title games for both nonselect classes and select divisions are scheduled to be played together again Dec. 26-28 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
About this whole select/nonselect deal … no, select and nonselect schools are getting back together to play each other for titles. They are continuing their separate playoff brackets as has been the norm since the football split in 2013.
If you missed this news cycle, LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine extended the offer to bring select schools back to the LHSAA’s championship venues for football, basketball, softball and baseball for 2020-21 earlier in the summer. And the select schools accepted that offer.
Playing select/nonselect finals together in 2020-21 is a wise business decision for both sides. Select schools will not have to seek separate venues for their events and resources on select/nonselect sides can be combined. This year has already challenging with a pandemic and historic storm damage from Hurricane Laura.
The only way combined select/nonselect events can be a regular thing again is if someone proposes putting the select schools back in the LHSAA events in January and gets it passed at the annual LHSAA convention. That is a wait-and-see proposition.
Kudos to the LHSAA executive committee for notching the first unofficial wins of the year.