GEORGIA — The Georgia High School Association announced Aug. 6 additional alterations to fall sports stemming the coronavirus pandemic.
The organization canceled all football scrimmages and moved back the dates for two other activities. Competition cheer will not begin until November, and one-act play will be delayed until the spring.
Though all scrimmages were canceled, the football season was otherwise not impacted. Practices under the GHSA’s coronavirus protocols will continue as normal, the announcement said, and the first regular season games are still scheduled to take place the week of Sept. 4.
The season was originally set to begin Aug. 21, but the GHSA decided in July to delay the start of the regular season.
Competition cheer was set to begin last weekend, but its start date has now been tentatively set for Nov. 21, with the state finals to take place in late February 2021. The GHSA said the move stemmed from a “high risk of indoor packed arena(s) which do not allow for social distancing.” Practices can continue with the GHSA’s current safety protocols.
The move has significant implications for local cheer programs, who are historically among the top in the state each season.
South Forsyth (7), Lambert (6), Chattahoochee (4), Johns Creek (2), Alpharetta (1), Denmark (1) and Milton (1) have won state titles since the GHSA recognized competitive cheer as a state championship sport in the1993-94 athletics year.
One-act play, another competition in which local schools have been traditionally successful, has been postponed until spring, but dates for region and state meets have not been set.
The GHSA says its decision was based on the risk of exposure to COVID-19 from indoor venues and “aerosol spray from [voice] projection and singers.”
As of Aug. 6, no decision had been made either by local school districts or the GHSA on whether fans would be allowed to attend volleyball, softball or football contests.
The schedules for cross-country, volleyball and softball have not been delayed, though safety protocols have been implemented.
In softball, some precautions include the closure of concession stands, social distancing in dugouts and measures designed to limit the amount of hands that come into contact with game balls.
For volleyball matches, huddles are prohibited, lockers will be closed, players cannot leave the bench area to celebrate with their team and officials and players are encouraged to wear a facemask.
The look of cross-country meets could also change under the GHSA’s guidelines. The outline says organizers should consider using staggered, wave or interval starts or consider staging multiple races depending on the number of competitors at the meet.