Hopes for fall Colorado high school football season thwarted

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Amid pressure to allow more fall sports, the Colorado High School Activities Association board of directors met Sept. 8 to discuss an adjustment of the previously approved 2020-21 sports calendar, which moved most fall sports to the spring, including football.

According to a release sent by assistant commissioner Bert Borgmann Sept. 9, the board voted unanimously to keep things as is.

"We understand that our school communities would like to return to all levels of normalcy," said Troy Baker, president of CHSAA's Board of Directors, and who is the athletic director at Buena Vista High School.

"We listened to all parties and the voices of our membership resonated strongly to support the plan as approved in August," Baker said. "The plan aligns with the CHSAA mission. All students have an opportunity to play a season during the 2020-21 school year."

The announcement comes two days after CHSAA commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green announced the association is open to reconsidering the calendar and planned to meet with Gov. Jared Polis and his coronavirus response team sometime this week.

Sept. 8, Polis also announced he is willing to work with CHSAA on a restructured fall season.

“Our administration was looking forward to allowing more student-athletes to begin their season this fall, but if the CHSAA board unanimously agrees that they should delay their season until the spring in an effort to ensure that they are better prepared to protect the safety of student-athletes then our administration fully respects that decision," Polis said in a statement Sept. 9.

"The important thing is that every CHSAA sanctioned athletic team sport will occur this school year giving kids the opportunity to learn important skills by participating in team sports," Polis said.

It is not clear if the organizations met before the board voted Sept. 8.

"I have said from the beginning that it will take all of us -- people at home, local communities, governments, businesses, and organizations working together to crush the spread of this virus," Polis said.

According to the CHSAA release, the board noted that the “safety, physical and emotional well-being of Colorado student’s participants must be at the forefront of every decision.” And it added that there would be Title IX and gender representation “issues” around reconsideration of the current sports calendar, and the diverse landscape of educational models throughout the state “must not be undermined.”

“The board remains committed to being responsive to our community members and appreciate their feedback, outreach, and input throughout this process. CHSAA will continue to meet regularly with the governor’s staff, COVID-19 Response Team, and educational and health officials to implement the 2020-21 Activities Calendar,” the announcement states.

Last week, Michigan reversed its August decision to move football to the spring, allowing student athletes to take the field for practice on Sept. 8.

A small protest was held in Pueblo Sept. 8 as athletes gathered in front of the Pueblo County Courthouse to urge lawmakers to reconsider the athletic calendar.

This story is from The Gazette of Colorado Springs, a Pulitzer Prize-winning daily newspaper. Used by permission. For more, visit gazette.com.

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