More than three weeks have passed since the GHSA announced on April 2 that the remaining spring sports season would be cancelled. This extraordinarily difficult decision came weeks after springs sports were suspended in mid-March and also occurred just one day after Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed an order that shut down all K-12 public schools for the rest of the 2019-20 academic year. In the days since, more difficult decisions have been made and new developments have shifted the conversation about the best way to respond and plan for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and road ahead.

One of the most significant and newsworthy decisions came on Tuesday when Governor Kemp announced that certain unessential businesses in the state would be able to reopen for business as soon as today, April 24. This announcement sparked a range of reactions and compelled GHSA Executive Director Robin Hines to issue a statement the following day.

“I am aware of the opening of hair and nail salons, gyms and soon restaurants by the Governor,” said Hines. “This did not include schools and school gyms are not to be opened until schools are opened and the GHSA has given the “all clear” for activities to resume. I have received numerous calls, emails and texts regarding the governor’s comments and school gyms are not the kind of gyms he is referring to. He is referring to Edge, Gold’s, Planet fitness etc. The guidance for GHSA sports and activities and training for these activities is that they are all suspended until further notice. Schools are closed, activities are suspended. You will be contacted the moment this changes. I realize that you are ready to return, as am I, but I ask for your patience during these unprecedented times.”

Normally, this would have been one of the busiest weeks of the entire spring sports season. The Riflery State Championships would be set for this Saturday at Fort Benning and baseball, soccer and tennis would be preparing for the second round of the state playoffs while lacrosse would be less than a week away from its opening round action. Instead, Zoom meetings and teleconferences are being held to brainstorm and discuss ways to plan for the road ahead and whether or not the pandemic will disrupt the Fall Sports season.

Blessed Trinity head football coach Tim McFarlin is a member of the Georgia Head Football Coaches Association and was joined on a Zoom conference Monday with University of Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart. On the call, Smart discussed how COVID-19 is impacting things at the college level and how they are planning on coming up with their own potential starting date.

“He was very informative,” said McFarlin. “It was nice to hear from him and he mentioned that they are meeting every day. They are staying in touch with the SEC Athletic Directors and head coaches and medical professionals so they are much like everybody else. They are having to deal with looking at a start date and I think we all are considering several potential start date. I did find it interesting that they had started to map out a plan of how long it would take from that start date to play football if we are going to play football this fall so it was very informative and I really appreciate coach Smart. The whole tone of the conversation was the safety of the athletes and I appreciated that.”

McFarlin joined the “Georgia Prep Sports: From a Distance” video podcast Wednesday and spoke specifically about the Governor’s decision to begin reopening Georgia businesses and what might be learned in the weeks ahead.

“I know his decision certainly raised a lot of attention and I know that I would hate to be in his seat,” said McFarlin. “We all can second guess, but the fact of the matter is that his decision will define stuff for us one way or another. I think in about 14 days we are going to know much more because if there is a resurgence of the virus after things opened back up then that certainly would have an impact on whether or not we are going to have fall Sports.”

Earlier during the week, newly-hired Valdosta head football coach Rush Propst appeared on the show and he expressed his concerns about the possible impacts of rushing into a football season too quickly. Propst, who is still impacted by the death of one of his players in 2002 who died of a heart issue during a workout, says that his top priority is the health and safety of his players during these unprecedented times.

“I think having time to prepare for the football season is so important,” said Propst. “I think we need 7 to 8 weeks of hard football training and that is weights, that’s conditioning, that’s practice and a lot of things to get back into. I’m really worried that injuries could be at an all-time high because bodies are not developed. People can say that they have been working out on their own, but it is not the same. They are probably getting about 25-30 percent of what they need to be getting because your natural self is not going to be able to push yourself like a coach and a coaching staff can. …If we don’t start by June 1st or June 5th, then we aren’t going to have enough time to start practice Aug. 1. I don’t have a problem moving practice back or taking one of our open weeks off or moving the season back a couple weeks. I want us to be safe, that’s my number 1 priority.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution continues to track the reported coronavirus deaths and cases in the state of Georgia. As of noon on Friday, April 24 there have been 22,147 confirmed cases in 157 different counties. These figures can be accessed HERE.

To access the national figures about COVID-19 Cases CLICK HERE

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