With state guidance for contact sports hanging in the balance, the OSAA executive board on Monday made provisions for football and volleyball as the start date for both sports approaches.
The state classifies both as contact sports, so under current guidance, football in all counties and volleyball in extreme-risk counties would be prohibited from joining soccer and cross country to start Season 2 on March 1. Volleyball outside of extreme-risk counties is permitted.
The OSAA is hopeful, though, that new guidance is coming this week from the Governor's Office and the Oregon Health Authority that would open doors for football and volleyball.
“We're anticipating, based on the conversations, some type of changes to the contact sports guidance in the next couple of days,” OSAA executive director Peter Weber said. “We don't know what those changes are. But any change would be an improvement to where they are now.
“While we're waiting for that to potentially happen, we know that we need to be providing the options to schools that will allow people to move forward, depending on what that guidance looks like.”
Football teams began non-contact practices Monday, but without changes to state guidance, contact practices and games would not be allowed. In that event, the board approved potential football activities such as 7-on-7, flag, virtual lineman challenge and virtual combine.
“I think we all know going in that not a single one of these activities is going to replace contact football. We get it,” assistant executive director Brad Garrett said. “But at the same time, we are leveraging every possible opportunity to find opportunities to produce activities that kids and coaches can do together under the current guidelines.
“We certainly remain optimistic that as we move forward, we're going to be able to see some adjustments to current policy that's going to allow a potential return to the game. That's what I'm hopeful for.”
Hillsboro superintendent Mike Scott, the board's 6A reprensentative, embraced the opportunity presented by the alternatives.
“If we can do these four right now, let's get started on those,” Scott said.
Tillamook superintendent Curt Shelley, the 4A representative, said he appreciates the work done in exploring options for football activities, but “I hope we don't have to fall back onto it.”
“I'm hoping that we can salvage a football season. That's definitely my preference,” Shelley said. “That's definitely, I think, where the board would like to move. I think having this to fall back on is really important. I think this is better than not having any football at all. After reading the comments, I see some schools will choose not to go this route. I think that's a local choice.”
The board voted to proceed with soccer and cross country. Both sports can begin practicing Feb. 22 and start contests March 1.
The board also voted to proceed with volleyball for the 47 schools located in the 12 lower, moderate and high-risk counties. For the schools in the 24 extreme-risk counties, the board approved outdoor volleyball as an option.
Volleyball teams also could benefit from the board approving a “change of season request form.” Schools, leagues and regions not currently permitted to participate in an activity can request to shift their seasons to a later date, when they would be allowed to participate.
The board voted to table the discussion on culminating week events until its next meeting, a Feb. 17 work session.