By LARRY VAUGHT
No one understands the “hopelessness” that high school coaches, athletes and fans feel more than Kentucky High School Athletic Association commissioner Julian Tackett.
“We have never been through a time like this when things are so uncertain,” Tackett said on WPBK-FM this morning. “Sports people are planners by nature.
“We are more optimistic than a couple of days ago, but less optimistic than a few months again that we will have a full fall sports season. Sports people are planners by nature
we are more optimistic than a couple days ago, less optimistic than a few months ago that have a full fall sports season. What it looks like, we just don’t know yet.”
That depends on the increase/decrease of COVID-19 in Kentucky the next few weeks. Tackett said those who refuse to wear masks in public places are basically saying they don’t want high school sports to be played this fall.
“We have been given a threshold and have been told if we get numbers down to that level we can have fall sports,” Tackett said. “The worse we do at accomplishing that (meeting the threshold), the more dim the prospects become of fall sports.”
Tackett said many assume that the KHSAA may take the same path as the Southeastern Conference (Kentucky) or Atlantic Coast Conference (Louisville). That assumption is wrong.
“We will be informed by what colleges do but we will not be controlled by what they do because our situations are different. The SEC and ACC have South Carolina, Florida, Louisiana and other states. They have got hot spots, crowds and travel we don’t have.”
Tackett says he’s not a “science guy” but has been working with a lot of health groups, including the Center for Disease Control, about how to proceed.
“We are in a better place than a lot of states,” Tackett said. “I think recently a lot of people were tried of being shut in and got out. We are hopeful as travel is ending, we will see that trend line (of case numbers) go down.We just don’t have enough data right now to make firm decisions about the fall. But I will say that we will not be dissuaded by what any other group might or might not be doing.”
I asked Tackett how much “normal” practice time he thought football teams needed before playing a real game (he’s meeting today with a group of football coaches to gather more data). He said it would be a minimum of three weeks and likely four to meet requirements the KHSAA has.
With all activity limited now until at least Aug. 3, that seems to make it impossible to have games no slated for the Aug. 21 traditional opening weekend of high school play.
“I don’t think we need six weeks to get ready and I would feel differently about the four weeks if the past few weeks players had not been able to work out and start getting in football shape,” Tackett said. “I think our football coaches and administrations can pivot quicker than most to start a season. We also have to face the real possibility during the fall that we might have to turn the spigot off and then turn it back on (due to COVID-19).”
He said he’s not sure the KHSAA would want to have a home football game before schools have started and chance a large community gathering spreading the virus.
“We are, for first time in my years here, at point where our first concern is not competitive equity (for the teams),” Tackett said. “Our first concern is safety and our second concern is getting to play.
“If you are unhappy with that, then maybe you ought not have a team. We likely are going to have some schools that may not field specific teams. Bottom line is we just don’t know but we are moving along towards an Aug. 3 start for everything and then we will see what happens.”