Kentucky High School Athletic Association Commissioner Julian Tackett met with members of the media online via Zoom Friday afternoon in order to take questions and help clear up any misconceptions that may be present in the current conversation about high school sports, or the lack thereof, during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Tackett spoke for a full hour, fielding questions on a wide range of topics related to high school sports in Kentucky. Newspaper and television reporters, as well as radio and Internet broadcasters took part in the Q & A session. Here are some of the highlights…
- Tackett said the KHSAA has taken, and will continue to take, an incremental approach in its decision-making process due to the fact that things are changing so quickly as it pertains to the threat of the COVID-19 virus.
- Tackett said Governor Andy Beshear’s announcement of youth sports potentially being able to resume as of June 15 does offer some hope, but also added that there is no rush to “jump back into full scale competition” due to safety concerns.
- On the 2020 high school football season, Tackett said that all options would have to remain on the table right now as far as potential changes to the season are concerned, adding, “I just don’t think that 2020’s fall season in any sport is going to look like 2019.”
- Tackett said contingency plans should be put into place as it pertains to early-season football bowl games, which tend to generate large crowds in most cases, and could in turn become a concern due to the lack of an ability to social distance.
- On coming to the decision of cancelling this year’s Sweet 16 tournaments, Tackett said, “I have never had to do anything worse in my eleven years as commissioner. I have never had to make a decision that difficult.”
- On potential impacts to fall sports other than football, Tackett said, “An all-or-nothing decision is not essential,” meaning each activity would have to be looked at on an individual basis.
- Tackett advised that people use caution and “don’t draw conclusions from erroneous social media posts.”
- Tackett also speculated that COVID-19 could result in the “beginning of the end” for cash boxes being utilized at ball games, saying he expects to see more schools move to an electronic payment method in order to reduce the amount of time that people would have to handle “dirty money.”
- Tackett said the KHSAA has been meeting with other states’ athletic associations on a weekly basis, seeking guidance and sharing ideas on how would be the most effective and sensible ways to move forward.
- Tackett explained that decisions will likely be made at the end of each month for what will or will not happen in the following month, once again pointing to the fact that we are still in a very fluid situation.
- As of May 8, 2020 the KHSAA’s yearly mandated dead period of June 25-July 9 will still be observed, but Tackett said it was “one of many things” that need to be reviewed.
- Tackett said that he is currently “not optimistic at all” that football teams will be able to participate in 7-on-7 scrimmages beginning July 10, adding that he expects adjustments will have to be made to all other fall sports preseason activities as well.
- Tackett clarified that the Governor’s announcement pertaining to “youth sports” applies to athletes in grades BELOW junior high school, adding that a request has been made to further clarify both the terms “youth” and “low contact.”
- Revisiting the subject of football specifically, Tackett said it is “fraught with issues that are going to have to be addressed, and we are getting guidance.”
- On the importance of high schools in the state getting back to playing sports, Tackett said, “It’s important to our communities. It’s important to society to get back to a sense of normalcy. It may be important in some areas for revenue, but that is not the highest priority. At this particular point, the money is a secondary issue to getting society moving again, and getting interactions going again. It’s important to be able to get us back together again.”
- Finally, Tackett said that he expects to see a continued increase in the participation of e-sports activities.