Georgia joined the largely growing number of states on Monday to postpone high school football when the Georgia High School Association decided to push all contests back two weeks into September. It now appears that state championships will be played from Dec. 27-30.
GHSA executive director Robin Hines decided it was the right balance between ensuring safety for players and ensuring a full season will be played this fall.
“The Board of Trustees were convinced that they were going to be moving forward of one accord regardless of whether that meant staying the course or changing things up," Hines said on Score Atlanta's Georgia Prep Sports: From a Distance podcast. "I think the positive thing that came out of the meeting was that everybody understands that the state office as well as the Board of Trustees is committed to doing everything they can do to have the season move forward and have a full season.”
As for future decisions, Hines wants local input to play a large part in deciding whether or not high school football is safe in their area on a case-by-case basis. The GHSA lifted several of its restrictions Wednesday, including training group sizes, locker rooms and showers.
“The decisions made locally are usually the best ones that can be made," Hines said. "What is good in Thomasville City may not be the same thing for Fulton County, for instance. As we look at our plans and the way we move forward, we need to build as much local decision making in it as we possibly can. We have many, many school districts that haven’t been impacted at all by COVID-19. They’ve gone on and haven’t missed a beat and everything has been great but we’ve also had some others that have been impacted significantly.”
The association will soon be discussing whether fans will be allowed at high school games. Once again, Hines believes each area’s opinion should be highly regarded in making the decisions.
“With so many different types of facilities, they’re far and wide," Hines said. "There are small ones, there are large ones and it’s hard to paint them all with a broad brush that would be fair to everybody.”
The GHSA also has a plan set for schools that aren’t given permission to compete when the season starts in September.
“If it does happen and there are teams that are unable to participate, we don’t have to look too far back to when Southwest Georgia was hit by hurricanes and had to skip some games," Hines said. "The way we treated that was we didn’t make them forfeit the games, we tried to reschedule games, but if they weren’t able to play the games, then we would call it a no contest. There would be no forfeitures or restitution. I mean, this is a different kind of year that we’re experiencing right now and we need to work with our schools.”
While there are so many questions yet to be answered about the upcoming season, it appears that the GHSA is willing to be flexible and creative in finding ways to have full high school football this season.