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CHSAA focused on starting all sports during 2020-21 year

CHSAA met with its task force last week to discuss a plan to bring back sports safely next school year. State guidelines will be the determining factor.

AURORA, Colo. — It's been a long three-month hiatus since the last Colorado high school game hit triple zeros in the semifinal round of the state basketball tournament. CHSAA is finally back in its office, building plans to bring students back to their fields, courts, and sidelines.

"The task force was really a bringing together of medical personnel, educators at every level, superintendents, athletic directors, as well as the CHSAA staff so we could just brainstorm and see what it would look like to resume."

That started with classifying each of the 29 activities as low-risk, moderate risk, and high-risk as a way of assessing which sports are ready right now  and which sports need some more work before starting in the fall.

The list looks like this currently:

Lower Risk

  • Boys golf
  • Boys tennis
  • Skiing
  • Girls swimming*
  • Girls golf
  • Boys swimming*
  • Girls tennis
  • Unified Bowling
  • Sideline Cheer

Moderate Risk

  • Cross country
  • Field hockey
  • Gymnastics*
  • Boys soccer
  • Softball
  • Volleyball
  • Baseball
  • Boys lacrosse
  • Girls lacrosse
  • Girls soccer
  • Track*

Higher Risk

  • Football
  • Competitive Cheer/Dance
  • Basketball
  • Ice hockey
  • Wrestling

The * means that sport can only be classified in that category if social distancing and single-use equipment can be achieved.

When these guidelines were introduced on June 3, CHSAA received some feedback from parents unsure of what these classifications meant and whether or not the other two categories would ever play during the 2020-21 school year. Commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green clarified the confusion.

"The interpretation was that if you were high-risk, you weren't going to be able to have that sport for the rest of the year or we weren't even looking at resuming that sport, and that couldn't be further from the truth," she said. "We have always said as an organization that our goal was to have every sport played in 2021."

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For that goal to come to fruition, the association is looking toward Governor Jared Polis and the state guidelines for outdoor activities and gatherings.

"I think in following the Governor's guidelines, they're playing baseball this summer, they're playing soccer this summer," Blanford-Green said. "CHSAA's not looking to take steps back on any of the sports that are out there. We are really looking to follow those safety guidelines that are out there and then try to navigate what we do in high school to make those fit."

With a current guideline of up to 25 people per team, that could limit sports like football from conducting normal practices and games, but Blanford-Green says it's time to step out of our normal boxes and think differently.

"The mindset that everything is about one group or one area of our state, we have multiple groups, we play six-man football," she said. "To say that football can't start, I think there would be some challenges to try to fit some sports and I want to continue some sports because I think that would be a challenge with lacrosse, as well."

Blanford-Green understands that the COVID-19 crisis has and will continue to be a fluid situation, but she trusts her educators and event planners at the district level to conduct events safely and adjust accordingly.

"They have staff in place to potentially look at social-distancing and sanitizing and all of the things that are the concerns for the Department of Health and the Governor," she said. "But I think there is a potential for all of the sports be conducted in their time slot in their season."

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