It’s not over yet.
But high school spring sports in Idaho are hanging on by a thread.
The Idaho High School Activities Association announced Tuesday, after a board meeting, that it is extending the postponement of spring sports from April 5 to April 20 because of the coronavirus pandemic. This order applies to all games, practices and meetings. The state’s public schools are currently closed at least until April 20.
“We just felt that it was important that the two dates are the same,” IHSAA Executive Director Ty Jones told the Idaho Press. “So that schools aren’t confused about what’s going on, when they can potentially come back and those types of things.”
The postponement seemed inevitable. A week after the IHSAA suspended all spring sports on March 16, the Idaho State Board of Education closed all schools until at least April 20. Jones told the Idaho State Journal last week that he foresaw the IHSAA extending the suspension of spring sports through April 20.
As of Tuesday, there were 506 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Idaho. They’ve led to five community spreads and eight deaths. There is also a statewide stay-at-home order in place until at least April 15. The U.S. has more than 180,000 confirmed cases and more than 3,600 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
“In reality, there really wasn’t another choice to make,” Jones said.
The latest decision by the IHSAA means baseball, softball, golf, tennis and track teams will potentially not have much of a season at all. Jones has said it is unlikely that the IHSAA moves the dates of this year’s spring state tournaments, which are scheduled to start May 11.
But a shortened season is better than the alternative — cancellation — which Jones said continues to be seriously discussed.
However, many schools have still been adamant on playing. An online petition calling for the IHSAA to offer full seasons with the recommendation of playing into the summer had almost 9,000 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon. While not guaranteeing it would happen, Jones said the board is now willing to entertain contingency plans like that.
“We understand that kids want to participate and that’s what we want, too,” Jones said. “That’s why we’re in this business. So it’s our hope that something can be salvaged, but people also have to be realistic that sometimes there are circumstances beyond our control that we have to deal with as well. But we’re looking at all possible things. The last thing anybody wants to do is cancel state tournaments.”
But those options may not be viable if schools continued to be closed. Jones said the IHSAA will follow the recommendations of Gov. Brad Little’s office and the State Board of Education. The State Board of Education will meet Monday to talk about extending its own school closure.
“We’re going to stay optimistic until the end,” Jones said. “We’re going to control what we can control and that’s being prepared for our tournaments if we get to move forward.”