Robin Hines, executive director of the Georgia High School Association, remains optimistic that student-athletes hoping to compete in the fall will have an uninterrupted schedule.
If the curve of the current coronavirus pandemic continues to flatten, Hines is hopeful that the school districts will allow athletes to begin the necessary offseason workouts in a team environment sometime in June.
“Whatever we say right now, it is really speculation,” Hines said Monday during the “Georgia Prep Sports: From a Distance” video podcast, “but I am hopeful we will be able to restart at such a time — maybe not full speed, but it may be small groups so we can social distance. (Maybe) our kids can begin to work and we spread that practice over the entire day rather than one large group. But that’s what we’re hopeful of, and we can be ready to kick off the Corky Kell (Classic).”
While Hines directed his statement toward football, he went on to say it covers all fall sports — football, fast-pitch softball, volleyball and cross country.
Each of the four sports take time for their athletes to get prepared to begin their seasons. The first ones up are softball and volleyball, which generally start about a week after school begins.
Hines said he wants to give the teams as much time as possible to prepare.
“How long do you go with no activity before it becomes a safety issue in itself?” Hines said.
The GHSA has worked in lockstep with the the office of Gov. Brian Kemp since the pandemic became pronounced within the state of Georgia. In mid-March, the GHSA first suspended the spring sports season for two weeks, then extended it before the season was ultimately canceled April 2, when Kemp closed schools for the remainder of the academic year.
Last week, as Kemp announced that some businesses were allowed to reopen, gyms were included, but that did not mean school gymnasiums, according to a statement Hines made on the GHSA website. In addition Hines said that, as restrictions are lifted, he wants to keep everyone on a fair playing field, meaning just because a school is in an area where the number of cases of the coronavirus are low, it does not mean athletes would be able to begin school-sanctioned workouts before those in metro Atlanta, where the outbreak has been much higher.
“At some point, were going to have to make some decisions, and that’s why I’m hopeful that we can have a blanket statement for the entire state,” Hines said. “That would be much preferred from my standpoint.”
Other areas of note:
♦ Hines said he has heard of some areas where football players are ignoring the social distance policies, getting together and creating their own 7-on-7s. He would like those to stop.
♦ The GHSA applied for and received funds through the Payroll Protection Program from the Small Business Administration. With that, the organization has been able to bring back the formerly furloughed employees from the offices in Thomaston. The loan will help the GHSA overcome an anticipated loss of $550,000 from the cancellation of the spring sports playoffs.
Hines said the federal loan is also allowing the organization to continue preparing for the 2020-21 school year.
“We’re going to hit the ground running without missing a step,” he said.