OSAA preparing for different scenarios

McNary’s Dyami Rios runs the anchor leg of the boys 4X100 relay at a meet from last season (File).

After meeting virtually on Wednesday, April 1, the executive board for the OSAA decided to maintain the current suspension for OSAA spring sports and activities until April 28.

“We’re hoping to get a little more information before we make our final decision,” said OSAA Executive Director Peter Weber. 

On March 18, instead of cancelling the season due to the spread of COVID-19, the OSAA decided to suspend the season until April 28. The decision came a day after Gov. Kate Brown closed all state schools until April 28.

Last week, the Oregon Department of Education shared that students might not be returning to classrooms this school year due to COVID-19, and that districts will need to be preparing virtual learning tools for schoolwork outside of the classroom.

If schools do indeed remain closed for the remainder of the school year, it’s more than likely that the OSAA will follow suit.

“Right now the philosophy of the board is that as long as classrooms are closed, we shouldn’t be holding practices or competition,” Weber said.  

However, the OSAA is still preparing for a scenario where an abbreviated spring sports season would take place. 

Members of the OSAA staff have been working with Dr. Mick Koester, the chief medical advisor and chair of the OSAA’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, to promote and develop guidelines that would emphasize athlete safety if teams are able to reconvene in May. 

There would be an initial seven-day period with no contests, only practices, and those practices would be limited to no more than three hours in length. There would also be an emphasis on late start times and weekend competitions to limit loss of class time.

“We want to make sure that our athletes are safe if they come back. We’re not going to try and jam stuff in to make up for lost time,” Weber said. 

One of the points of discussion was the possibility of moving spring sports and championship events into the summer months. At press time, more than 18,000 people had signed a petition for the OSAA to allow high school athletes the ability to have a spring sports season by extending the competition schedules into the summer.

However, Weber claimed that it would be hard to pull off a spring season in the summer months. 

“There have been a lot of people that want us to shift competition into the summer. But we’re an education-based institution that are tied to the schools, so if schools aren’t meeting, why should we?” Weber said. “Plus, I don’t know how we would cover the staffing and personnel costs of running events into the summer. There are just too many potential issues that we would run into.”

But Weber did admit that he could see typical summer events, passing league or summer basketball, to take place as scheduled because they wouldn’t be OSAA sanctioned events — even though they would involve OSAA teams. 

The OSAA Executive Board is scheduled to meet once again on Wednesday, April 15. At that meeting, Weber said that it would “very likely” that the board would have a decision in place as to whether or not there will be a spring sports season. 

“I hate to say that the board will for sure make a decision on April 15, but the main topic of discussion should be about whether we can have a season,” Weber said. “So much of what has happened is out of our control, but what we can control is how we respond. This whole process has been crushing for seniors, but at the end of the day, this is way bigger that high school sports.”