La. must flatten the curve again for high school sports to start

Updated: Jul. 15, 2020 at 7:51 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Though the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) says it has no plans to cancel sports seasons this fall, a string of bad weeks in the state’s fight against the coronavirus may force schools to delay or cancel some games.

Louisiana must enter the third phase of the White House’s plan for re-opening the economy before current limitations relax and practices in all sports are allowed to begin. The state is currently in the second phase, where only cross country runners, swimmers, and volleyball players are allowed to practice, and they cannot make contact with each other.

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Football players could begin non-contact practices when the state begins phase 3.

Louisiana would need to make two or three weeks of uninterrupted progress in its fight against the virus for the LHSAA to allow football players and other athletes playing high-risk sports to begin making contact with each other. This is demonstrated in the “Phase 4″ section in the chart below, when games could begin.

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“We need to get out of phase 2,” LHSAA director Eddie Bonine said. “The further down the road not being able to do that - do the quick cowboy math - the season starts to condense on when we can get started.”

Bonine said Monday after a meeting at the capitol that he expects some football games will be delayed, largely because state health experts recommend at least 3-4 weeks of full-contact drills that help athletes acclimate to game speeds. These drills typically happen during training camps that begin in early August.

“Camp is whenever you separate the men from the boys and you start hitting like you’re supposed to,” he said. “When you get to camp, it becomes football stuff. We need to get a minimum of four weeks of that before we start the interscholastic piece.”

Louisiana can enter phase 3 on July 24 at the earliest, though Gov. John Bel Edwards has not indicated whether he will move the state forward. Cases are continuing to spike at an alarming rate, he’s said.

“Hopefully, if we get to play, it’ll be that much sweeter when we get all those wins,” Dunham high school senior linebacker Patrick Day said. “We’ll be like, ‘We worked really hard for this. We went through a lot of stuff and a lot of bad things.' We’ll be good.”

Day, who also expects to play running back, already lost most of his junior-year baseball season when schools closed because of the virus.

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“Wearing masks, washing your hands, Germ-X, wiping equipment down - all the little things. That’s how we get a season,” Day said. “Doing all those little things that may not seem important. That’s how people give student-athletes seasons and a regular school year. Doing all the small things to make the bigger thing better.”

Day has an opportunity to play college baseball, but the coming football season could be his final opportunity to don a helmet and shoulder pads. Some of his teammates will not play organized sports again after they graduate high school.

“The average person may not get it. It’s just a game,” he said. “But for a high school senior, it’s our last ride at sports for some of us. Some of us want to get to the next level, and if COVID-19 messes that up, we’ve got no shot to go.”

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