School is on hold statewide until April 30 after Gov. John Bel Edwards’ extension of the stay-at-home order issued earlier this week in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean the Louisiana High School Athletic Association has given up hope that championship events will still be held for spring sports.
“We’re hoping for our student-athletes that they’re able to complete their seasons, especially for those seniors that this is their last opportunity,” LHSAA Assistant Executive Director Karen Hoyt told The News, following up on a news release from the LHSAA on Friday. “It’s such an unfortunate situation that this whole country is in. We’re just praying that something turns around quick and they’re able to return to school and able to resume their spring sports.”
As long as school is not in session, “competition and practice will not be an option,” according to the release.
“We want to make sure our student-athletes are safe,” Hoyt said. “We want to make sure we do everything we can to abide by the proclamations that have been set forth by the governor to try to do what we can to do our part to help flatten the curve and just get Louisiana back healthy. We definitely don’t want to contribute to the spread of this virus. So many lives have been lost already in the state of Louisiana. We sure don’t want to lose any more.
“With that being said, we’re just going to have to follow the governor’s lead,” Hoyt continued. “Obviously, if we’re not in school, then I don’t see how we can justify having athletic contests. If it’s not safe to go to school, then obviously it’s not safe to participate in practice and athletic contests.”
If the spring seasons do resume, Hoyt said the organization will have to look into extending them beyond the normal calendar boundaries for each sport, which figures to a focal point of the LHSAA Committee Meeting to be held April 7 and 8.
“They make a lot of the decisions that are made, so it wouldn’t be a (LHSAA Executive Director) Mr. (Eddie) Bonine or a Karen Hoyt decision, or anyone else in in our office,” Hoyt said. “It would be collaboratively with, on recommendation from our Executive Committee, moving forward, in conjunction whatever directive and proclamation is sent out by the Governor’s office. It will definitely be a collaboration of multiple entities involved. It’s not an easy decision to be made, as you well know.”
Hoyt said if the spring season starts up, competition likely won’t start right away.
“We have discussed most of our sports need at least a two-week practice period,” she said. “You talk about baseball and arms and throwing and track and field. There would need to be some type of practice time to get those athletes back in shape, because even if they are working on their own, it’s pretty hard to get in that game shape and be ready for competition.”
In the meantime, Hoyt said she and members of the LHSAA are following coronavirus updates each day.
“It’s a day-by-day situation,” she said. “Every day, I’m on pins and needles … waiting for 12 o’clock to see what the numbers are, to see how many new cases, how many new deaths we’ve had, just hoping and praying that it’s slowing down.”
Friday’s full release from the LHSAA is below:
As the LHSAA staff and Executive Committee continue to monitor updates from Governor Edwards' office, as well as state and local health departments, we continue to support the possibility of our member schools completing their spring sport seasons. If and when schools are allowed to return to session will determine the length of the spring sport seasons and the potential of LHSAA State Championships.
The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, officials, fans, and local communities are our top priority. We appreciate all member schools' cooperation in following Federal, State and Local recommendations and mandates during this time.
We will continue to provide updates as new information is available and appreciate your patience and understanding during these unprecedented times. Please know, as long as any/all schools remain closed statewide, return to competition and practice will not be an option.