High school football and other fall sports in Oregon will be moved to 2021 after the Oregon School Activities Association announced Wednesday afternoon it will shift and condense its 2020-21 sports calendar.
“Today’s decisions by the Executive Board provide a framework to maximize the potential opportunity for students in Oregon to participate in three seasons,” OSAA Executive Director Peter Weber said in a press release.
High school sports will now run from late December through late June with limited overlap between the seasons. Each sports season will feature a seven-week regular season and conclude with an OSAA culminating week event.
The culminating week events will replace the traditional state playoffs. Details on what the events might look like are still under consideration by the OSAA.
Under the new calendar, fall sports start in early spring. Practices for football, volleyball, soccer and cross country will begin on Feb. 22, followed by the regular season starting March 8 for all sports but football.
High school football teams will have three weeks of practice, and games are scheduled to begin on March 16.
The prep basketball, wrestling and swimming seasons will remain close to their original timeline. Practices for all three winter sports begin on Dec. 28 and competitions start Jan. 11.
The spring sports season for baseball, softball, track and field, tennis and golf will start with two weeks of practice on April 19 and games on May 3.
Shifting the fall sports season to later in the school year was a decision the OSAA had previously said it was hoping to avoid, but it continued to be an available option.
Now that the shift is official, high school athletic directors will be scrambling to rearrange their sports schedules to fit the guidelines. When considering how to piece together a new schedule, the OSAA encourages athletic directors to make local or regional contests a priority. That includes considering cross-classification games when appropriate.
The OSAA has also waived out-of-season policies for the fall and have given school districts permission to participate in conditioning, practices, and interscholastic competitions for any OSAA-sanctioned activity not restricted by the governor’s office, the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education.
“The (OSAA Executive) Board recognized that a one size fits all approach isn’t what’s best for students across the state,” Weber said. “By waiving policy to allow regional participation this fall, local school districts will have the discretion for participation in those areas that are able to do so safely per state directives.”
The new OSAA calendar is in response to the most recent state guidelines on how and when Oregon’s youth will return to schools. The metrics required by the state will push nearly all OSAA member schools into comprehensive distance learning to begin the school year, according to the OSAA release.
Not having students on campus and in classrooms presented challenges for the OSAA and the Executive Board says that shifting the calendar gives districts additional time to return to a hybrid or on-site learning format.
The OSAA says it will continue to work with the governor’s office, OHA and ODE, along with its Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, to provide further information on the return of high school sports.