Plans for fall sports

By CT McDonald

The South Carolina High School League’s executive committee adopted a plan Wednesday, July 15 that would get fall sports started in the next few weeks, and would also be flexible enough to adjust, if necessary, according to the realities of the ongoing virus pandemic.

In a July 15 news release, South Carolina High School League (SCHSL) Commissioner Jerome Singleton said that months of uncertainty, confusion and despair have followed the onset of COVID-19 in mid-march.

“That ends now,” he said. “We are forging ahead with the information we have, placing as many health and safety precautions at the frontline and allowing fall sports to continue with adjustments.”

Executive committee members voted 14-2 to adopt a plan put together by the SCHSL that keeps fall sports on the fall calendar, but with later start dates.

Under the plan, fall sports can start practicing August 17, and football games can start on September 11. Previous dates were July 31 for practice and August 20 for games.

The plan calls for a seven-game football regular season – with region games played first – ending on October 23. Four rounds of playoffs would begin October 30, with state finals on November 20. Other fall sports state finals will occur before the November 20 football championships.

If this plan does not prove workable because of coronavirus-related issues as time moves forward, then the flexibility aspect kicks in. Singleton said the schedule could be moved forward one week at a time to a start date as late as October 2, while still completing the season by the usual early December time frame.

And, only if necessary, it may be possible to move fall sports to the spring, but with some real challenges to overcome. Fall sports include competitive cheer, cross country, football, girls golf, girls tennis, swimming and volleyball.

All of this depends on there being a school year. As Singleton has noted before; if there is no school, there can be no school sports.

School districts around the state have been working to develop plans to start school in the fall, with varying configurations being considered. Lexington Richland District Five is to make its full plan available for parents, families and the community this week, but some details of the plan were already known early in the week.

Briefly, according to the district’s July 14 news release, school was still scheduled to start August 19 with two options being offered: A traditional five-day in-person schedule or a virtual school schedule. The district is also pursuing a required state waiver in order to be able to offer a third option; the hybrid schedule which involves students attending classes in person a few days each week and attending virtual school the other days.

Deliberations are expected to continue with school and athletic officials planning and adapting to meet the needs of their respective communities and to adhere to any official requirements.