SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — COVID-19 has changed and even cancelled a lot of things in recent months… and that has student and parents wondering about the fall sports season.
The South Dakota High School Activities Association’s Fall Sports & Activities Task Force is recommending that all sanctioned fall sports proceed according to schedule.
The task force assigned a classification to each sport. Football, competitive cheer, and competitive dance are considered high contact and risk. Soccer and volleyball are moderate, while golf, tennis, and cross country are low. The Board of Directors will vote on the matter Wednesday, but it appears the games will go on.
The 30-member Fall Sports & Activities Task Force made its recommendation to proceed with fall sports based on seven principles, headlined by safety.
“It was difficult and it was a lot to go through, but I think we’re all comfortable with what came out,” SDHSAA Executive Director Dan Swartos said.
The South Dakota High School Activities Association is making rule changes for each sport, some mandatory, some optional.
Football players will be allowed to wear shields on their helmet, as long as the visor is 100-percent clear. Cloth masks and face coverings are not allowed, as they impact the ability to properly wear a chin strap or mouth guard. Officials are allowed to wear masks and may use electronic whistles, while also learning a new set of rules.
“I think we’ve got some great officials who will pick up on it. I know we’ve been working with our officials coordinator already this morning to start working with officials on those changes. Most of them are procedural, so it will be more on the officials than anybody else,” Swartos said.
The task force says schools should consider a tiered system for fans based on active cases, new cases, and hospitalizations in their district. Examples range from open attendance to no fans.
“We wanted to put some examples out there. We encourage schools to develop a tiered protocol and to work through that as the conditions change within their communities,” Swartos said.
The task force even explored season switches, but says they’re not practical or necessary at this time.
Among the fine arts, All-State Chorus and Orchestra, featuring 1,100 students from 150 different schools, is considered high contact and risk. The task force is recommending further consideration on the event and to make a final decision at a later date.