Logistical Questions Loom for High School Athletic Directors

Vermont high schools will play sports this Fall, but plenty of details still need to be worked out
Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 9:55 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - On Friday, high school athletes around the state of Vermont finally got the news they were hoping for, when Governor Phil Scott announced that Fall sports would be going ahead when school resumes next month.

While there was some question of whether higher contact sports like football or indoor sports like volleyball would be allowed, Scott made a point to say that all the traditional Fall sports had the green light. Now it is important to note that this does not mean things will be business as usual. In an email to athletic directors at member schools, VPA associate executive director Bob Johnson noted several changes to expect when official guidelines are announced next week including facemasks for players and limiting the number of spectators to 150. The latter is just one of many challenges AD’s like Mt. Mansfield’s David Marlow have to sort out.

“Yeah, that’s gonna be a challenge, and that’s something that I’m gonna have to sit down with my admin team and kind of hash out,” Marlow said. “We’ve talked about giving each athlete, you know, two tickets. And what happens to that number 151 or 152 that comes walking through the gates to watch a game?”

Perhaps a bigger concern is the issue of transportation. Many schools in the state are considering or have already implemented a “split schedule”, where students will be split into two groups that alternate in-person and remote learning to limit the number of people in the building on a given day. It makes sense from a health and educational perspective, but creates a logistical headache to get athletes to practice or games on their “remote” days.

“I think it presents a challenge for any school just because of the transportation piece,” Marlow said. “You’re gonna need transportation for those kids to leave the building that day in the afternoon to go back home and so I think that’s a challenge that all administrators throughout the state are gonna end up having to start thinking outside the box a little bit and try to develop a plan that is accommodating to all your students.”

There is also the question of how school administrators will handle the significantly shortened season, with practices not allowed to begin until school starts on September 8th and games presumably not beginning until two weeks later, but regardless of all the challenges, school officials are just glad students will be able to get back out on the field this Fall.

“To be able to get out with their group of friends who have similar interests with them and be able to compete and get exercise and get moving, I think is gonna be huge in that sense of, ‘Ok, yeah maybe I’m only going to school two or three days a week, but you know what, I get to play soccer, I get to go to football practice, or I get to go running cross country after,’” Marlow said. “I think that’s huge. And if sports are gonna change, we might as well do the landscape of it now and be supportive of it so when we do get back to normal, it almost makes you value it maybe a little more than you did in the past.”

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