OSAA votes unanimously to delay sports and endorses three season model

WILSONVILLE – The Executive Board of the Oregon Schools Activities Association (OSAA) voted 13-0 to delay the high school sports season until February 22 after a briefing by Executive director Peter Weber. In addition, after much discussion among the members, the board decided to proceed further with three seasons.

Weber opened his presentation with an explanation of OSAA working daily with the Oregon Department of Education on COVID-19 cases around the state’s schools.

“We hoped the implement the original plan of starting sports, but not so now,” Weber said. “Cases continue to rise around the state. We need to make some changes.”

The original start date for schools to jump back into sports was December 28.

Weber said only 42 schools in membership with the OSAA are located in counties currently not in the “extreme risk” category.

Weber stressed the delay in start date was not a cancellation of the sports season.

“We want to maintain opportunities for all students,” he said. “We want to have a plan in place to do that.”

Weber brought two options to the board once the February date arrives. Option one was two seasons in duration. Fall sports would join with golf and swimming for a 9-week season in the first season while the second season would combine basketball and wrestling with traditional spring sports for an additional nine weeks. This is option involves “stacking” of sports.

The second option would entail shortened 6-week seasons, but keep the traditional fall, winter and spring sports in place.

“Neither of these options are perfect,” said Weber.

Board members were quick to speak out against the two-season option, citing numerous concerns.

“After speaking with our members, we are against stacking sports,” said board member Jack Folliard, executive director of the Oregon Athletic Officials Association (OAOA).

Folliard’s sentiments were echoed by Curt Shelley, board member and superintendent of Tillamook School District and John Beck, Oregon Athletic Coaches Association.

Board member Mike Scott of the Hillsboro School District and representing 6A schools said he originally supported a two-season concept.

“I have been swayed by others on the board and now support the three-season approach,” said Scott.

Joining Scott on changing her mind was Doctor A. Katrise Perera, superintendent of the Gresham-Barlow School District.

“I supported the two-season initially,” said Perera. “The three-season concept gives us a longer start up and is more equitable and I now support it. I wish we could make the call on when to start, but we can’t.”

Folliard told the board lack of officials if sports are combined would be a problem. According to Folliard, Oregon currently has 1,000 basketball officials working the state. 250 of those also officiate baseball and softball contests.

In addition to a lack of officials, the stacking of sports would also result in some coaches having to make choices according to board member Amber Cowgill, activities director at David Douglas High School.

“We have coaches coaching different sports that would need to choose,” said Cowgill. “The stacking model would also force students to make choices in other activities like speech or theater.”

COVID-19 also delayed the board from making any decisions on schools moving classifications. La Pine, Neah-Kah-Nie, and Elgin were on the agenda to make moves based on new student numbers. Again in an unanimous decision, the board decided to forego any decisions on moving schools in/out of classifications until COVID-19 concerns calm.