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Scott: There will be a high school fall sports season

All fall sports will be played, but Governor Scott tells players, coaches and families to expect changes
Published: Aug. 7, 2020 at 9:58 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - At his press conference on Friday, Governor Phil Scott announced that there will be a fall sports season when Vermont high schools open next month.

Those sports include the fall sports traditionally offered by the Vermont Principals' Association, cross-country running, soccer, field hockey, football, cheerleading, volleyball, bass fishing and golf. But there will be changes.

When guidelines for both high school and recreational sports are released by the state next week, Bob Johnson, the associate executive director of the Vermont Principals’ Association, says that he expects face coverings will be required for all sports, both when athletes are on the sidelines, and while they are playing. The one possible exception may be cross country running.

Also spectators will be limited to 150 per event, and no large group events will be allowed, like cross country meets that draw multiple schools and hundreds and sometimes thousands of athletes. All those details and more still need to be ironed out in the month between now and when the school year begins, as practices can start on the first day of school, which is September 8th, but Johnson says it was important for the Governor to deliver his message.

"Over the next couple of weeks, now we're going to have to determine what the fall sport season is going to look like and that's going to be the tough part of the process. But, yes, I think it was really important.", says Johnson.

"I think students also needed to hear we are going to have a fall sport season, again we're not going to necessarily know what it's going to look like yet, but we understand how important it is for them to get out on the field and be able to go out and participate in activities."

Johnson says sports like soccer, field hockey or golf likely will be able to be played with minimal adjustments. That won't be the case with football, the lone 'high impact' sport played in the fall, and volleyball, the lone sport played indoors.

Mount Mansfield athletic director David Marlow, after hearing Friday’s announcement, says he knows those sports may have to make more significant adjustments to operate under current health and safety guidelines, but that it is still very important the effort is being made to allow athletes to compete in those sports as well this fall.

“I think it would be awfully hard to look a student-athlete or a coach in the face and tell them we’re going to play soccer and field hockey and not play football or volleyball.”, says Marlow. “I do think we’re going to look at sports differently this fall in order to play. That could be minimizing contact or minimizing even being inside. I think we have to look outside the box a little bit as administrators, after we hear from the task force, of course, to make it feasible for all our athletes.”

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