The South Carolina high school sports scene’s moving pieces are all starting to collide.
That was evident Wednesday morning during a nearly three-hour online meeting of the South Carolina High School League, it’s executive committee and administrators of its member schools. In the end, all the discussion led to what amounted to a three-week delay in the fall sports calendar, a rollover schedule and a reduction of games — but very little in terms of an actionable decisions.
As it turns out, COVID-19 is still very much calling the shots.
“If we can’t get in the classroom, I think our answer is right in front of us,” SCHSL Commissioner Jerome Singleton said.
As districts across the state continue to craft their re-opening plans — which include in-class, e-learning and hybrid models, sports has been put on the back burner.
The SCHSL proposal includes several new dates:
• Start of football practices moved to Aug. 17 from July 31;
• Games to be played no earlier than Sept. 11;
• Last possible start date for football is Oct. 2, if the SCHSL wants to complete it on schedule.
It also mandates that football season will be cut down to a seven-game regular season, as well as a reduction in playoff rounds, to be determined at a later date.
Of course, all of that should be considered tentative, Singleton said.
The commissioner stated that this plan allows for “flexibility” to move things around, often at the last minute. Other fall sports, as well as those in the winter and spring, will then be addressed as a need arises.
Ultimately, this was selected over another proposal presented by the Lexington 1 School District Athletics Director Dave Bennett and Lexington 1 Superintendent Greg Little. That plan included a sports season swap based on individual risk assessments from the National Federation of High Schools.
It would have meant spring football, as well as fall baseball and softball, among other changes. It was met with heavy resistance from the voting members of the committee, but also from local baseball coaches who are afraid of losing a second consecutive season due to COVID-19 shutdowns.
“It would frighten me that we could start and get shut down again like we did in the spring. So we could go two years without high school baseball,” North Myrtle Beach coach Brian Alderson said. “A start and cancellation would kill us.”
Said St. James coach Robbie Centracchio: “There’s been a long talk with the baseball coaches in the state over the past month and I don’t know any that are in agreement.”
That idea was put to rest rather when Lexington’s proposal was denied.
The one that was accepted, however, is also being considered one of little consequence. The vast majority of administrators – in Horry County and beyond – and coaches believe much of anything will happen any time soon.
“It’s just me, but I think we’re going to wait until the 10th or 12th of August, and then put another delay in,” said Roger Dixon, the athletics liaison for Horry County Schools. “A lot of [frustration] is coming from them not getting the answers they want. But they’re not going to get any answers for another month.”