LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine.jpg

LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine.

The Louisiana High School Athletic Association released a statement Wednesday afternoon stating the organization is “fully committed” to having sports in the fall.

The full statement reads:

“Now, more than ever, we are reminded that our communities need high school sports. Interscholastic competition supports the physical, emotional and mental well-being of student-athletes across Louisiana. The LHSAA is fully committed to the safe return of high school athletics this fall. We encourage member schools to follow LHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee Guidelines to ensure the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, and administrators. Reopening high school sports depends on all of us working together.”

Earlier this week, Sen. Cleo Fields sent a letter to Sandy Holloway, president of the state board of elementary and secondary education, asking to suspend athletics this fall because of COVID-19 concerns, including ‘student in-person participation, in a group setting, including conditioning, practice and team meetings.’

In a statement Tuesday, BESE said it does not have the authority to suspend athletics, saying it is up to superintendents, principals and the LHSAA.

Fields’ letter went on to say, in part: ‘I do not believe conditioning activities can be conducted safely, much less, drills, practice and games. There is simply too much close proximity involved to safely conduct these activities.’

Schools around the state began summer workouts on June 8, with schools in Livingston Parish beginning theirs on June 9.

“I have now witnessed for one month our trainers and our coaches have done phenomenal job, as well as our kids, doing exactly what was asked of us, and they’ve done everything I’ve asked of them,” Denham Springs football coach Brett Beard said of following protocols set forth by the Livingston Parish Public School System. “Let me tell you, it’s been safe, it’s been effective. Our kids have been working. I’ve seen progress. I’ve seen growth, and we’ve stayed healthy.”

Fields’ letter also mentioned the LHSAA.

’This issue is much too critical to leave these decisions to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association, which is a private entity. It is our responsibility to ensure that the health and safety of our children is placed above any athletic endeavor at any time or place.’

Beard spoke highly of the LHSAA’s handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“I’ll go ahead and be the first one to tell you I think the LHSAA’s done a heck of a job guiding us through this, and you know what? They’re not making any decisions based off of what they want,” Beard said. “They’ve based everything off of our government and what our governor has said. Once again, he (Fields) has no idea what he’s talking about, because we’ve done everything we’re supposed to do. LHSAA’s doing everything they’re supposed to do, and everything’s in accordance with the elected officials that are in the power to make that decision.”

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