“It’s been a long time since March.”
That is what David Jackson — executive director of the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association — said to open his press conference via Zoom on Thursday. Jackson said he has heard plenty of questions about bringing back sports since the OSSAA canceled spring sports and basketball tournaments for Classes 2A through 6A in March because of COVID-19. But he also knows the organization needs to balance safety with bringing activities back.
“We know that lots of people are wanting to get back to our activities. Staying safe has to be the priority for all of us,” Jackson said. “We’re trying to find that balance of maybe being able to provide activities, but being able to do so in the safest manner.”
Teams across the state have gotten to participate in summer leagues, and the OSSAA’s calendar allowed practices for all fall sports except football to begin July 15. Football practices can currently begin Aug. 10.
Jackson said during the press conference that the organization is still planning on sports to be played as scheduled, but it expects there will be delays throughout the season. Still, the organization believes in bringing back activities in the safest way possible.
“Based on what we have right now, our plan is to move forward and try to provide our activities in the fall,” Jackson said. “We feel like our schools want us to give their kids a chance to have activities again in the safest manner we possibly can.
“We’re going to make an effort to get those activities played in some manner.”
Jackson said that the OSSAA has been paying attention to information coming from different states and levels of sports, and that the organization has been working on contingency plans despite planning for sports to go on as scheduled.
“Everything is on the table,” he said.
Even if sports do go on, they might not be the same. According to Jackson, teams could be facing shortened seasons. He added that nondistrict games could be eliminated.
“There may be some shortened seasons. There may be some truncated playoff series,” Jackson said.
Jackson said that the OSSAA will try to separate sports as much as possible if the organization moves sports from other seasons to spring in an effort to help multisport athletes, but it will not be able to completely erase the overlap of sports in that scenario.
During the press conference, Jackson answered a question about who will make decisions regarding a positive COVID-19 test. He said the organization will let the school districts make those decisions
“The school districts themselves are going to manage those scenarios,” Jackson said.
However, Jackson did mention that the OSSAA will provide safety guidelines to follow throughout the year. He also said that the OSSAA will recommend school districts follow the guidelines but will not have mandates.
Jackson also said that school districts will be in charge of deciding attendance at games, at least throughout each regular season. Once the playoffs begin, Jackson said the OSSAA will take over and hopes to have fans at postseason games.