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ASAA calls off most fall activities, upcoming seasons

The postponement remains in effect until a formal decision by the ASAA Board
(KY3)
Published: Oct. 13, 2020 at 3:26 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska School Activities Association announced on Tuesday the cancellation of the majority of its fall sports programs, and the postponement of the next season for all upcoming activities, including but not limited to football, swimming and diving, gymnastics, riflery, music, eSports and volleyball.

A release from ASAA Executive Director Billy Strickland released Tuesday afternoon said for the sports currently in season, regional championships will be allowed to continue so long as they are completed by Nov. 22.

“We had that discussion,” he said shortly after the release of the written statement of a meeting the ASAA board previously had with state medical professionals. “Issues pertaining to the feasibility of continuing to offer statewide events with the COVID count numbers being what they are, and where they’re being forecasted to go.

“As we regroup and restart, that’s going to be - we’re going to have to have systems in place,” he added. “We have what we’ve done in the past, which will guide a lot of that, but it’s going to need a COVID spin to it.”

Wrestling was slated to start Nov. 2, and hockey was scheduled to being next week. Citing concerns about widespread travel and the upcoming holidays, ASAA shut down all statewide championship events for the time being, but said people could consider continuing with regional events.

“It’s just such a bummer for the kids especially,” said Harlow Robinson, Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Executive Director. "The ones that are competing, at this point, heading down the homestretch, they start a season with hopes and dreams and goals. And for them to have the rug pulled out from under them so to speak right now is really rough.

“This is the result of case counts in Alaska heading in the direction they are,” he said, “and we have to be honest with ourselves about that and the consequences.”

Last week, Strickland said the association was considering all options for formats of contests and championships, in the event sports were allowed to continue.

“We’re looking at it as point-in-time,” he’d said, “and we’re looking at all activities and talking about, ‘Can we take a three-day tournament and turn to into a two-day tournament?’ ... We’re looking at everything as a possibility, and we’re looking at what other states are doing. Unfortunately, there’s no operating manual for a pandemic.”

The decision follows a meeting of the ASAA board earlier this week.

“There’s two sides to this discussion,” said Robinson, who’s been closely tracking sports across the state for more than a decade and founded the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. “In all this, we always need to be respectful of the fact that the virus is a lethal illness. But, there is a balance I think we can reach."

Strickland’s prepared statement said the decision to cancel the programs was based, as mentioned previously, on consultation with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the Anchorage Health Department, current COVID-10 case counts and projections for the Anchorage area and other parts of the state, as well as the impacts of holidays, including travel into and out of the state.

“As one of my board members said to me, none of us got into activities to cancel them,” Strickland said Tuesday. "I think everyone on my board, every member of ASAA staff, really, we enjoy the games ourselves and know the benefits they give students. And we also know what it means to be able to make a state tournament.

“We don’t like taking that away from students and coaching staffs that have worked so hard,” he said. “We are doing this to really show seriousness that it is not taken lightly. For us to do this, it means we are really concerned about the safety aspect of having a statewide event. And we’ve got to put that first.”

The board of directors is currently scheduled to meet again on Nov. 9.

Copyright 2020 KTUU. All rights reserved.

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