The Oregon School Activities Association announced its latest adjustment to the 2020-21 high school sports year as coronavirus numbers continue to move in the wrong direction in many areas of the state.
High school sports — which usually begin in late August or early September — were moved to an early January start by the OSAA executive board back in August.
In the latest board meeting Monday, the OSAA revised the schedule again, pushing activities and sports back another month, to February.
This time, the fall sports will be the first to compete, with practices set to begin Feb. 8 for football and the following week for cross-country, soccer and volleyball.
Games and events will start the first week of March.
As a result, all three sports seasons will continue to feel the pinch, with shortened seasons.
Fall sports will last just over a month, and will be followed by a spring sports season from April 12 to May 23, with winter sports pushed back to May 17 through June 20.
Astoria athletic director Howard Rub said, “I am pleased that they’re still making an effort to have something for all three sports seasons.”
Still, he said, “It’s hard on the seniors right now,” as the senior athletes continue to see their final year of sports slipping away. With three separate sports seasons still planned, “it gives them some hope of playing.”
The OSAA considered other proposals for separate sports seasons, and may still have to make future adjustments when February rolls around.
One proposal the OSAA was considering, Rub said, “would have had baseball and basketball offered during the same season.
“In our case, that would have made it tough to field competitive teams in both sports,” he said. “That was a proposal by 6A schools, because the majority of 6A schools have basketball players who are basketball-only athletes. That’s not the case at the 4A level and below.”
Another proposal had spring sports first, which would have made for some very cold baseball and softball games and track meets.
Currently, football, wrestling and basketball are unable to play or practice under normal conditions because of no-contact COVID restrictions, “so that’s something I’m still nervous about,” Rub said.
Rub, who doubles as football coach and athletic director, says the changes are creating scheduling nightmares for all athletic directors.
Seaside boys and girls basketball had already scheduled 13 games for January and February.
Rub said, “I was getting inundated with requests for some nonleague basketball games in January, but I wasn’t even dealing with that much, since I didn’t see that happening.
“I would say scheduling has been stressful, because of the direction things are going. The seasons are being shortened, we’re down to five weeks.” Still, the “Cowapa League is committed to playing a league season” in all sports.
In some sports, the schedules may take on a local flavor, with Clatsop County schools playing each other in nonleague games and events.
Coaches and athletes are still holding out hope of competing in some form or fashion.
Peter Weber, the OSAA’s executive director, said Monday’s decision by the executive board “is another reminder of the impact the pandemic has had on Oregon students and schools. While disappointed that we need to adjust our original schedule, we believe that keeping three distinct seasons, albeit in shortened seasons, maintains potential opportunities for all students moving forward.”