Professional and college sports teams are competing all over the country, even with coronavirus cases rising — with NFL teams entering the stretch before playoffs and the NBA gearing up to start games later this month. Audiences have been limited and the leagues are requiring teams to follow tight testing regimes and protocols to limit exposure to the virus.
But with Oregon reporting more than 1,000 daily cases on a regular basis, in well over half the state’s counties, high school athletes will have to wait a little longer.
The authority over Oregon high school sports decided Monday that games will again be put off, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The decision by the Oregon School Activities Association pushes practices off for what are usually “fall sports” until Feb. 22, except for football, which would start two weeks earlier on Feb. 8. Under a plan that OSAA leaders approved in August, winter sports would have started practicing later this month.
“All of our conversations with the Oregon Health Authority, and following the news, it appears that the models are showing that things are going to get worse before they get better,” said Peter Weber, OSAA’s executive director, in an article on the organization’s web site.
“As we’re looking to provide as much time as possible to lower case counts — and get counties out of the extreme-risk level, if possible — we thought that this timeline made sense.”
Under the new schedule, brief seasons for spring and winter sports would follow, though in reverse order: spring sports would start its season first on April 5, and winter would follow six weeks later on May 10.
The OSAA’s executive board also considered a two-season plan, one with fall sports plus two winter sports; the other with spring sports and two other winter sports. But there were concerns about how the “stacking” would affect smaller schools.
COVID-19 cases have been showing up among athletes both in college and professional settings. The Portland Trail Blazers announced over the weekend they would close the team practice facility after officials learned of three positive cases, including one involving a player.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the name of the executive director of the Oregon School Activities Association. OPB regrets the error.