GHSA fall football decision in doubt following sports medicine advisory committee meeting

Georgia High School Association executive director Robin Hines made no immediate decisions on fall sports Wednesday after his weekly meeting with the GHSA’s sports medicine advisory committee, but changes in the football schedule could be imminent, according to a report Thursday by Georgia High School Football Daily. Wednesday’s meeting also came as more schools and states are suspending or postponing football practices over COVID-19 concerns. Hines and the committee agreed on canceling preseason scrimmage games, according to Score Atlanta, although Score cited no sources. Hines would not confirm the report. “The sports medicine advisory committee is not a decision-making body; it’s advisory,” Hines told GHSFD late Wednesday. “I’ll certainly take anything said in that meeting as advisement, but I don’t intend to say anything until I have the opportunity to address it with the board of trustees and the membership.” In Georgia, Lee County, Twiggs County, Decatur, Greene County, Putnam County, Liberty County, Newton, Tucker, Lakeside, and North Paulding are among more than a dozen schools who have shut down practices due to Covid-19 concerns. The South Carolina High School League has implemented a second delay for the start of football in that state. Minnesota, Maryland, and Colorado recently joined six other states to move football to winter or spring. The trustees on July 20 voted to postpone the first football games two weeks to the week of Sept. 4. Wednesday’s meeting had drawn heightened attention because of statements made last Friday by Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the Georgia Department of Public Health commissioner. Toomey expressed concern to school superintendents about the health risks of close-contact high school activities such as football, competition cheerleading, chorus and band.

The GHSA oversees more than 400 schools across eight classifications throughout the state of Georgia. Seven of its 25 competitive sports are in the fall, including cross country, football, softball and volleyball. In late July, GHSA determined that all other GHSA fall sports will remain as scheduled on the current GHSA calendar. Softball is scheduled to begin today (August 6), cheerleading starts August 8, volleyball begins August 10, and cross country will have an August 10 starting date. GHSA kept the football conditioning schedule in place. It began July 27. Players began workouts in pads on August 1. The GHSA website had the following statement posted late Wednesday: "We appreciate everyone's concern about today's SMAC meeting, this is an advisory group that provides valuable information.  No decisions are made during these meetings as was the case today.  The previously distributed correspondence concerning Acclimatization and Practice Recommendations are still in place until further notice."

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Cartersville, Georgia