High School fall sports postseason approaches; COVID-19 could lead to forfeits

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A fall sports season wasn’t a guarantee in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There were a lot of unknowns going into the fall season and I don’t think any of us thought we would get through it without any schools having cases within their school,” SDHSAA Executive Director Daniel Swartos said.

The South Dakota High School Activities Association created a plan for schools to follow during the pandemic.

“The purpose of the plan was to put the procedures in place and set expectations for screening. Procedures in place for kids who test positive, returning to play after a positive test and then sports rule modifications and from that aspect, I think it’s worked well,” Swartos said.

There have been 18 football games canceled this season, but the majority of teams have still played on football Fridays.

“We’re probably in that 93-95% of games played. Last week was the most games that we’ve had canceled, and we still were around that 90% games played last Friday,” Swartos said. “Schools have been really good at the lower levels and up and down our classifications of helping other teams out.”

There have been cases in schools across the state, but the adjustments made at the local level, have helped prevent any major outbreaks.

“I think our athletic directors for putting plans together locally that worked, based on their needs,” Swartos said. “I think our coaches have done a great job of restructuring their practices and I think the kids have done a good job. They’ve taken a lot of personal responsibility of thinking of what they’re doing outside of school and being responsible.”

Postseason competition is coming as the calendar turns to October. Unlike the regular season, we won’t be seeing much for rescheduled games.

“We’ve just been making sure we are up front with schools and that once we get to the postseason, those opportunities for postponement are pretty slim,” Swartos said. “If we can’t get the game in or if it’s not safe to play the contest, then it would likely be a forfeit. Our schools understand that and at the end of the day, that is just the way this season is going to be.”

There has been talks of moving the State Cheer and Dance tournament, but it would be a venue only change, as it would remain in Rapid City.

The other state tournaments won’t see a change as of now, including the state football championships in the newly renovated Dakota Dome.

“We’re thankful that it looks like we’re going to be able to play there. I know Vermillion high school has been playing there,” Swartos said. “I haven’t been down to see it yet. I know Dr. John Krogstrand has been down there and was very impressed with the renovations that have been done and we’re really excited to get to play our contests there.”

State tournaments begin next week with the golf state tournaments. The football championships are scheduled for November 12-14, while the volleyball state tournaments are planned for November 19-21.

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