OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Secondary School Activity Association wants to get prep sports going again, but the organization is trying to find a balance.
“Staying safe has to be the priority for all of us. It certainly is for us and for the schools that make up our organization,” OSSAA executive director David Jackson said in a Zoom press conference Thursday morning. “We’re trying to find that balance of maybe being able to provide activities, but be able to do so in the safest manner we can.”
Activities statewide were shut down in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
That meant the suspension of the large school state basketball tournament, all spring sports and summer off-season activities.
“We have, probably on a daily basis, been in contact with many of the public health professionals. One of the questions I have received is do we pay attention to what other states are doing. We absolutely do.
“We’ve been watching what other states have been doing. We’ve been paying attention to what the other levels, what they are doing at the NCAA level. We get that information on a daily basis trying to determine whether or not it’s even feasible to consider going forward with activities.
“We don't have a drop dead date where say on Aug. 1 we’re going to delay the season or move the activities. We’re going to go forward as planned.
“With the way information changes so often, we may get information Monday that points us in a different direction. If so and we see we need to do something different, then we will make that call at that time. We are going to proceed as if our season is going to go as scheduled.”
Jackson said delays of some sort are entirely possible along the way.
“We will delay if we need to delay; stop if needed,” he said. “We’re going to make an effort to get those activities played in some manner. They’re not going to look like in the past.”
He said there’s a possibility of shortened seasons for fall, winter and spring sports and/or condensed championship series.
“We feel our schools want us to give their kids a chance to have activities again in the safest manner,” he said.
He said there’s even a scenario where spring sports playoffs could run into June or even July if fall sports are pushed back.
“Everything is on the table,” Jackson said of the various plans that have been considered.
“If it gives us a chance to get them (games) played, we could certainly do something like that.”
The elimination of non-district or non-conference games also is possibility if it allows the completion of various seasons in a timely manner.
Jackson said it would be up to the individual district how things are handled should a player test positive for COVID-19.
“We’re not going to tell a school district how to manage those scenarios,” he said. “They know the students much better than we do. They are going to be able to put together protocols on that local level than we could.”
Normally if a team doesn’t play a scheduled game, the opponent receives a forfeit win.
But should a school have to put off a game because of COVID-19, officials at both schools are encouraged to work out a makeup date.
Decisions on allowing fans to attend, CDC guidelines on social distancing and the requirement of face marks will be left up to the local districts, but once the OSSAA takes over game management in the post season, “we want to have fans at our activities. That is such a big part in our minds of the high school experience.”
Jackson said the OSSAA has been exploring holding all football championship games at one site.
He said that decision should be finalized by the September board meeting.