After last week’s ruling from the Kentucky High School Athletic Association that they would move forward with their plan to begin fall athletics in early September, there was much speculation about whether Gov. Andy Beshear would override the decision during his Monday press briefing.
As it turns out, Beshear decided to not reverse the KHSAA’s decision, but he also made it clear that he does not think it is wise for schools to allow athletic competitions to resume at this point in time, explaining that we are currently in a perilous situation where the number of new cases of COVID-19 could begin to spike again if we make the mistake of letting our guard down.
“We are not going to overturn that decision,” Beshear said Monday of the KHSAA’s ruling allowing for the start of fall sports. “And it’s not because I think that it is a good decision, or a wise decision. But if we’re going to defeat this virus we are going to need people other than me, all over Kentucky, taking responsibility to make good and wise decisions.”
Beshear went on to elaborate on some of his specific concerns pertaining to athletic activity and its potential for helping to facilitate the spread of COVID-19 within the state. He then brought Kentucky Department for Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack onto the stage to back up his concerns with some facts about the risks of participating in contact sports during this time.
“I hope that in Kentucky we can be more successful than in other places,” Stack said of moving forward with the plan to resume athletic activities in schools this fall. “But the outlook is not good.”
Stack then pointed to instances of problems that some college-level football programs have had with attempting to resume full-contact practices and competitions. He also discussed recent evidence of how COVID-19 has caused some patients to develop inflammation of the heart muscles, saying this could potentially pose major threats to the overall health and well-being of any athletes who might contract the disease.
“You can have sudden cardiac death because you have an irritable heart muscle,” Stack warned. “It’s just going to take one 16 or 17 year old to drop dead on a sporting field before someone notices that this is not fictional. It’s real.”
With all of this being said, high school sports are now officially on track to get underway with competitions beginning again the week of Sept. 7. As for what could happen if COVID cases were to begin spiking again as a result of the resumption of these activities, Beshear said he absolutely has the right to step in and change course if he deems it necessary.
When a reporter asked the Governor about whether he has the ability to stop sports if he feels that it is in the best interest of the overall health of the state, he said, “Heck yeah, I do.”
Beshear then stressed the importance of total transparency on behalf of coaches and school officials in order to make a return to sports a successful endeavor.