Mackey: ‘Fall sports will be played’

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor 

MONTGOMERY – During his press conference on Friday, June 26, regarding the roadmap to reopen schools this fall, State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey was asked about the return of sports this fall and the response was something fans were hoping to hear.

“Those activities will look different, but they will resume,” he said. “Competition is something we are looking at. Two schools coming together to play volleyball or compete at a cross country meet, and of course as everybody wants to know, what about football. We will have extracurricular activities and co-curricular activities on campus.”

Mackey said he and AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese talk just about every day and they are working through safer protocols for the upcoming fall season for all sports.

One of the ideas being floated around include changing balls in sports that need them every time there is a stoppage in play and then sanitizing the previous ball before it is put back in play.

It’s unclear how that would impact football games and the timing in between snaps, but those are discussions the AHSAA plans to have in the coming weeks leading up to the season.

“The balls will be cleaned as often and practical as possible,” Mackey said.

He also brought up social distancing in the crowd, and pointed to how successful graduations were, and the players box and benches for sports as well.

He said they’ve talked about taking the current players box, which goes from the 30-yard line to the 30-yard line and possibly extending it from the 10-yard line to the opposite 10-yard line to help create more space.

You may also see different setups for benches in other sports throughout the year as well.

Can we use a clean ball every time there is a stop in the game. There are ways to do that. Can you social distance the crowd. We saw that at graduations.

“There are ways to continue the normal routines of our lives, but they’re going to look different than they have in the past as we do things to keep ourselves and one another safer,” Mackey said.

The AHSAA is currently reviewing the roadmap to reopen sent out by the State Department of Education on Friday, and will be holding meetings the week after the Fourth of July to start putting together their plan.

“We appreciate Dr. Mackey and his staff for their tireless efforts. I am looking forward to working with school administrators and with the AHSAA Football and Fall Sports committees which meet on July 7 in addition to the Alabama Football Coaches Association on July 8 to discuss the ALSDE Roadmap and the ADPH guidelines,” said AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese. “The AHSAA will continue to study and produce “Best Practices” (in conjunction with the AHSAA Central Board, Medical Advisory Board, ALSDE and ADPH) and will present the recommendations to the Central Board at its July 22 meeting. The AHSAA is looking forward to hosting the Kickoff Classic at Cramton Bowl, which kicks off the 2020 football season Aug. 20-21.”

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris also said it’s important for people to manage their expectations and realize there will be outbreaks.

“We will see outbreaks at these events,” Harris said. “It’s impossible not to have contact in athletics, but we need people to think through these situations so we minimize the disease every way we can.”