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AHSAA addresses sports in ‘unprecedented’ times

Steve Savarese, executive director of the Alabama High School Athletic Association, addressed the cancellation of spring sports and championships in a press release Friday.

“Like thousands of others, I am deeply saddened and disappointed that our schools have closed, and spring sports will not have an opportunity to finish their seasons,” he wrote. “Even more so, I am disheartened for all student-athletes, contest officials, their coaches, families, student bodies, fans, communities and especially our seniors.

“We are facing an unprecedented health crisis, but I am prayerful that the steps we are taking now within our schools and across our nation will enable all those affected to return to a sense of normalcy sooner than later.

Savarese wrote he is “extremely grateful to all our educators who will utilize tele-communications and other ingenious methods to continue to educate our students as well as keep our student-athletes conditioned.

“Moreover,” he added, “I’m grateful to all those within our medical communities who are serving those in need. In particular, now more than ever, I am thankful for the leadership of the AHSAA medical advisory board and Central Board of Control.

“Lastly, all the steps we are taking now will be for naught if we each fail to do our part, and our responsibility is to follow the recommendations of our health care professionals.  My prayer is that we will all take seriously the Alabama Department of Public Health guidelines so our families can once again return to work, visit loved ones in the hospital and nursing homes, celebrate birthdays, weddings, and births of children, visit and hold our grandchildren, shop, travel and just enjoy the simple things of everyday life we often take for granted.

“Until those guidelines are lifted, we must heed these cautions thus not allowing this health issue to affect future school years.”

The AHSAA also released the answers to some frequently asked questions by coaches, players and parents:

  1. Can a school coach hold practice or work with student-athletes in small groups during the school closure? No. The mandated school closure is a “dead-period” for all athletic activity, even in small groups. A coach is not allowed to have physical contact with nor work with students during this time. Students are not covered under catastrophic insurance during mandated school closures.
  2. Can school facilities be used if the coach is not present? Example: Three or four students want to use the batting cage or pitching machine at the school or come to the school to work out in the weight room. No. School facilities should not be used during the mandated school closures.
  3. Can a group of students work on their own at a facility off campus as long as the coach is not present? The AHSAA does not govern outside facilities but strongly supports the Alabama Department of Public Health recommendations that gatherings of multiple people are highly discouraged.
  4. Can a student participate in an outside activity in the same sport during this time? Because schools are closed, the outside participation and 50 percent rules are not in effect during this time.
  5. Schools are closed, so what’s next? What about spring evaluations, summer practices, competitions, camps, and fall practice? The AHSAA has created a Spring Sport Contingency Committee, Fall Sports Contingency Committee and Summer Competition Committee to develop contingency plans for spring tryouts, competition/camps, dead weeks and beginning start date for fall sports. Plans will be provided once the AHSAA Central Board approves. Any plan is subject to change even after Board approval in the event school campuses are not reopened during the summer.