High school athletes yearn to play sports as fall season gets pushed back

Lily Bennett, Staff Writer

The halt to in-person school has impacted students in many ways. For many, distance learning means a new online curriculum, cancelled school dances and a serious lack of socialization. But one thing is for certain: sports must go on — with some changes, of course. 

Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) has added guidelines for players and coaches in accordance with Governor Kate Brown’s Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) document, Statewide Reopening Guidance — K-12 School Sports, Limited Return to Play, last updated on Sept. 15. These guidelines aim to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases among athletes, which could also help counties meet their metrics set by Brown.

Sophomore Grace Richmond reacted to OHA’s guidance related to sports.

“I understand the reasoning behind restricting sports by their level of contact, but it seems frustrating for sports like football, basketball and wrestling that are full-contact,” Richmond said.

Metrics are being used in Oregon to track the number of COVID-19 cases per county. If case numbers meet or are below the metrics for three consecutive weeks, counties can advance to the next “phase” since their COVID cases are dropping.

Currently, all but four Oregon counties are in phase two — Washington County being one of the four. If Washington County were to move to phase two, TuHS would be able to reopen for hybrid learning, and certain sports would gain more flexibility. Washington County is struggling to decrease COVID cases partly because the county has close relations with neighboring Multnomah County and Clackamas County, which are also facing increased cases. 

See this document that is updated weekly with the number of cases in each of the 36 counties.

Sophomore athlete Peyton Howard described why she thinks Washington County is stuck in phase one.

“I don’t think we’re doing as good of a job as we were at the beginning of quarantine. Wearing masks and staying six feet apart don’t seem as important to people anymore,” Howard said.

With the help of the Governor’s Office, OHA and Oregon Department of Education (ODE), OSAA has altered the sport seasons for Oregon schools and has added specific guidelines and restrictions to each sport to keep players and coaches safe. The altered sport seasons have created two weeks of overlap from one season to the next. Expect scheduling conflicts this year if you are a multisport athlete!

Due to the restricted seasons, OSAA decided on Aug. 5 to waive their “out-of-season” policies to allow high school teams to train and condition during the fall if their school district permits. 

 “By waiving policy to allow regional participation this fall, local school districts will have the discretion for participation in those areas that are able to do so safely per state directives,” OSAA Executive Director Peter Webber said during an OSAA meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 5. 

To increase safety, specific restrictions have been placed on full-contact sports and sports played indoors. Check this information table on OSAA’s website to see your sport’s restrictions. Restrictions are dependent on whether the sport is indoor or outdoor, the level of contact (full-contact, minimal/medium-contact or non-contact) and if TuHS is teaching in-person or virtually.

 Full-contact sports labeled as “training and conditioning only” are allowed practices with no contact. Sports labeled as “full participation allowed” are allowed contact with masks and other safety measures.