The Ritzville Adams County Journal - Eastern Adams County's Only Independent Voice Since 1887

By Katie Teachout
The Journal 

WIAA pushes fall sports back two weeks


Last updated 7/14/2020 at 3:37pm

Katie Teachout

Senior lineman Jay Harder performs a star drill while fellow senior and lineman Doug Morris looks on, July 9.

RENTON – The WIAA (Washington Interscholastic Activities Association) met July 7 and pushed back the start of fall high school sports by two weeks.

Football, previously scheduled to start August 19, will start Sept. 5; with other fall sports beginning Sept. 7. These start dates, over Labor Day weekend, would allow for games to begin no sooner than September 18.

The Washington State Health Department and Governor Jay Inslee's office have not yet approved football to begin in any of Inslee's "Safe Start" programming, including Phase 4.

The WIAA intends to meet again July 21, with the stated goal of being able to release a tentative fall schedule July 22.

"We're going to have as many meetings as we need, in order to work some of the details out, coming up for fall sports," WIAA Executive Board President and Lind-Ritzville/Sprague Athletic Director Greg Whitmore said, in a July 8 interview with Paul Beattie of Eli Sports Network in Centralia.

Whitmore told Beattie the August 19 start date never felt like a sure thing, and compared predicting fall sports to being asked at the beginning of a game what play he was going to call in the fourth quarter.

He said a committee of staff, WIAA Executive Director Mick Hoffman, board members, superintendents, principals from member schools and athletic directors would be working hard over the next two weeks to try and put together more options.

"We'll have a lot more contingency plans, and on the 21st we'll choose from some of those, the next best scenario," Whitmore told Beattie.

Beattie pointed out complications beyond just getting kids on the field, such as having officials, who tend to be older, willing to work; and transportation issues of how many kids might be allowed on a bus.

"There's questions we don't even know yet, and that's why it's good to involve so many stakeholders in our state. We may make a decision that may be good for us here at Ritzville, but it's not good for Sumner," Whitmore said.

Beattie said he felt more optimistic about fall sports just two weeks ago.

"It looked like things were going, and man, it sure changed on a dime," Beattie said. "It just flipped around, and I can't say that I'm real optimistic about it right now. To be honest, as an outside observer, I don't know how you're going to get football done in the fall."

"It changes so rapidly," Whitmore agreed, praising staff for working hard on contingency plans, despite knowing most won't come to fruition.

"We're all working tirelessly. It's what we do on behalf of our kids," Whitmore said.

He said the WIAA has been looking into the option of moving sports classified as lower risk, such as golf, tennis and cross-country, to fall.

"We know there will be some problems with that, but as we see some other states doing that – New York is one – we see some promising ideas," Whitman said. "Everything's on the table.

Whitman said the WIAA is at the mercy of, and waiting for more guidance from, the state health department and maybe more from the National Federation of State High School Associations.

"We're not a one-size-fits-all, one sport or none; we're not even the same county to county. Which kind of goes against everything we stood for in equity and all that. So it's a little bit outside the comfort zone," Whitman said. "But as many kids as we can provide a healthy, education-based activity for, we're going to try to reach them. No matter what."

He also pointed out another harsh consequence of school sports possibly being cancelled.

"Football, basketball, and volleyball to some extent, are revenue-generators for high schools, and for our association. You cut those revenue sports out, then all of a sudden, ASBs are really hurting. And that could take a couple years to recover," Whitman said.

"In the end, there are those kids out there that are just as passionate about cross country and golf as a kid who puts on a basketball uniform or a helmet," Whitman said. "They're all unbelievable experiences that we just have to honor, and get them in somehow for these kids."

He said he hopes to have more to share after the July 21 meeting.

“Hopefully we’re feeling a little bit better, in two weeks, about which direction the virus is going and some of the guidance that we’re given, and make a decision that even increases our optimism a little bit.”

Author Bio

Katie Teachout, Editor

Katie Teachout is the editor of The Ritzville Adams County Journal. Previously, she worked as a reporter at The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle, the Oroville Gazette-Tribune, Northern Kittitas County Tribune and the Methow Valley News. She is a graduate of Western Washington University.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 5096591020


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