Sports fields in Banks on August 5, 2020. Photo: Chas Hundley
The Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) Executive Board met Monday, February 8 to discuss the fate of a number of sports, approving soccer and cross-country for a Feb. 22 start with games to start in March, and punting more discussions on football and other sports to a Feb. 17 meeting.
Schools located in counties in the “High Risk” or lower COVID-19 category can also play indoor volleyball, opening the possibility that Banks’ volleyball team could play as well, if Washington County is moved down from the “Extreme Risk” level. An announcement regarding the status of Washington and other large counties is expected Tuesday. Also expected is updated guidance from the governor regarding contact sports.
“We expect a change to the contact sport guidance by the Oregon Health Authority and Governor’s office in the upcoming days,” Peter Weber, OSAA’s executive director said during the meeting.
Oregon has some of the strictest restrictions on high school sports in the nation, and has not allowed most sports to start for the school year.
With the news that soccer and cross country can start, the Banks School District will follow suit, said Banks’ Athletic Director Ben Buchanan in an email to the Banks Post.
“Nothing changed with regards to full-contact guidance, however we are hearing that Gov. Brown and the OHA will be updating their full-contact guidance this week. Keep your fingers crossed! If full-contact football isn’t allowed I would imagine Banks would still participate in some sort of alternative action, such as 7 on 7,” Buchanan said.
The executive board approved potential football activities during the meeting, such as 7-on-7, flag, virtual lineman challenge and virtual combine activities.
“I’m hoping that we can salvage a football season. That’s definitely my preference,” Tillamook superintendent Curt Shelley, the 4A representative said. “That’s definitely, I think, where the board would like to move. I think having this to fall back on is really important. I think this is better than not having any football at all. After reading the comments, I see some schools will choose not to go this route. I think that’s a local choice.”
Buchanan believes that Washington County will drop down a level to the High Risk category as early as Friday, February 12, opening a path for volleyball as well. The only other option for school districts in Extreme Risk counties would be to move volleyball outdoors.
For football, little will be known about the sport’s fate until further guidance is released by the governor, and the clock is ticking.
The board is wary of doing anything that could have an impact on the 2021 fall football season; according to recommendations from the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and OSAA’s 2020‐21 Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, playing football beyond May 1 raises concerns about the length of recovery time between May 1 and when the fall football season would traditionally start.