OK LHSAA, it is time to make a call.
Louisiana needs a high school sports plan as we move ever closer to the abyss that the 2020-21 sports year may become.
Yes, we understand that your plan must be flexible and may include multiple scenarios to cover whatever happens next. We get that.
We know how the coronavirus pandemic has changed our lives and sports in ways we never imagined. We know there is a chance that the hold this pandemic has on our society could morph in new ways.
But we cannot reach the goal we all want –a fall season to start with – unless you begin to chart a course. Each team is a vehicle that showcases what high school sports in Louisiana are about. Your job, LHSAA, is to be the navigation system.
Like it or not, when Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that Louisiana would remain in Phase 2 of its COVID-19 reopening on Tuesday, that wait-and-see bubble we have lived in burst. The virus ran out the clock on us.
There are no more illusions about starting football and volleyball the week of Aug. 24 with jamborees. The 21-day extension puts us at Aug. 28. A short-term plan to cover that 21 days is a great start.
However, we would like to see more. We all expect football and volleyball to be delayed as Louisiana works through Phase 2 and on to Phase 3. For football, a Phase 1 return to competition is projected to follow before games are played.
Your job is not an easy one. This I know better than most people since I have covered the LHSAA for nearly 30 years. This is the most significant challenge high school sports in Louisiana has faced since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Unlike Katrina, which scattered families and athletes to other states and other parts of Louisiana, the coronavirus has affected all 64 Louisiana parishes in some way.
There are state mandates that must be followed. Again, we all get it. Safety does indeed come first for everyone, including the athletes, coaches and contest officials.
But … your challenge, LHSAA, is to give it your best shot. I know executive director Eddie Bonine and the LHSAA all have been working on plans and pondering all the possibilities we have imagined. And probably some we have not.
Give us potential dates or even a range of dates to shoot for. Provide other benchmarks, if possible. Hope always spring eternal for a sports season, but now context is needed. The athletes and coaches have been working and waiting.
I wish the executive committee and staff all the best for Wednesday’s scheduled meeting. No one expects you to cure the virus. We are ready to see what the LHSAA’s plan is.