LHSAA gives more guidance in latest memorandum
In its latest memorandum to member schools, the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) provided more guidance to member schools concerning upcoming protocols for football during the current pandemic.
In Monday’s press release, LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine told schools that even though Governor John Bel Edwards will not make a decision on moving the state out of Phase II of the recovery plan until August 7th, the organization had decided to keep August 3rd as its permissive start date to begin actual football drills.
In the memo, Bonine stated, “The LHSAA and the LHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee have provided recommendations up to this point as it relates to what it permissible during the “Summer Rules” time frame of our sports calendar. The Governor has now extended Phase II until August 7, 2020, which falls beyond this year’s permissive start date of August 3, 2020. Some felt as though we should push the start date back, however, after conversations with my Section III colleagues and other consultations, I (we) have decided to keep the August 3rd start date.”
Under “summer rules”, teams were only able to workout in weight rooms and condition under specific protocols. This memorandum allows teams to now move forward with football specific drills.
However, even with the commitment to keeping August 3rd as the permissible start date, teams will still have a number of do’s and don’ts to follow.
On August third, teams will be allowed to put on helmets, use hand shields and pop-up dummies, have ball exchange drills and participate in 7-on-7 inter-squad competition. But, there is to be no contact in the 7-on-7 drills and groups have to be limited to 25 or less.
Also, if those groups are outside they must remain separated. If they go indoors, there must be a physical barrier.
On August 6th, the only addition to the protocols is the use of shoulder pads. Every other protocol remains the same. The only way the protocols relax is if Governor Edwards moves the state into Phase III of the recovery plan.
Bonine also cautioned that local school systems are the final word in if a team can move forward on August 3rd.
“Please know your school/school system may choose not to start at this time. Also know that until Louisiana gets into Phase III and establishes a positive trend as it relates to the virus, the start of the regular football season, including but not limited to full contact, scrimmages, jamborees and eventually the beginning of interscholastic competitions will inevitably be adjusted,” Bonine said in the memo.
What does that last statement mean for football teams across Louisiana? Basically, until the state moves forward with its recovery phases, football will be placed in a wait and see mode.
In a statement made to The Advocate, Bonine pushed the delay in making decisions on fall sports onto other governing bodies.
“Why (hasn’t the LHSAA made a decision on fall sports)? Because what we talked about doing changed based on what governing bodies have passed,” Bonine said. “We are not kicking the can down the road. What has kicked the can down the road are the people who are not following state guidelines to help us get the COVID-19 numbers down.”
“The LHSAA is a private organization, that is true,” Bonine continued. “It would do us no good to make a decision that goes against what the state’s education leaders and legislators put in place. Our decisions would not be worth the paper they were written on.”
Come August 7th, Bonine may not have a choice on making a decision.