Return of prep sports at Hawaii schools delayed again as seasons remain in flux

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Updated: Jul. 9, 2020 at 5:46 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Administrators at the state’s public schools were told this week that they will not be able to start any athletic-related activities until at least August 19, all but ensuring that the start of any potential prep sports season in Hawaii will be delayed.

The postponement is attributable to the surge in coronavirus cases across Hawaii, according to a state education department spokesperson.

“This date aligns with the Department’s directive to schools to focus the first two weeks of the new school year on three priorities: assessing student learning needs; testing and adjusting school safety protocols; and conducting employee training and preparing for classroom and virtual instruction,” the spokesperson said.

The original plan was for extracurricular activities to have resumed on August 4, according to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association.

Air riflery, bowling, cheerleading, cross country, football, girls volleyball and e-sports are the sports which participate in Hawaii’s fall sports season.

Individual sports can vary in the amount of organized practices that are necessary before games can be played, but the HHSAA mandates at least 14 days be set aside at the start of the sport’s calendar, before competition, for what’s known as a heat acclimatization period ― “to enhance an individual’s exercise heat tolerance and ability to exercise safely and effectively in warm to hot conditions.”

Given that most high school student-athletes have been away from campuses since early March, many coaches in the most physically-demanding sports, like football, believe at least a month of preparatory time would be required before athletes could safely participate in games.

And several of the football coaches Hawaii News Now spoke with about the return to competition said they believed six weeks, not four, was the requisite amount needed in order to ensure safety for their student-athletes.

Given that the first games of the Hawaii high school football seasons in each of the last two years have happened on either August 2 or 3, the schedule for the upcoming season is clearly still up in the air.

“We will need to amend our (football) calendar,” said Chris Chun, the executive director of the HHSAA.

Meanwhile, some collegiate athletic programs, including the Ivy League, have indicated that they will not participate in fall sports at all. Others, including the Big Ten conference, have announced that competition will be limited to schools within their conference.

This story will be updated.

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