The Board of Directors voted during Friday morning’s meeting in Gainesville.
After several weeks of review from its committees and anticipation from all over the state, the FHSAA finally decided when to restart sports.
An 11-5 vote for the proposed Option 1 on Aug. 14 sealed the deal, so high school athletes and programs are still able to get back in action as early as Aug. 24.
The first allowable return to practice date for fall sports is Aug. 24 and the earliest allowed regular season competitions can begin Sept. 4. Not all schools and districts will be forced to start at either of those times, however.
The option was amended early in the meeting by board member Carlos Ochoa, who proposed a new state series opt-out date of Sept. 18 in order to give more schools the flexibility to come back when they feel ready to do so. If a school or district opts out and needs to adjust its sports calendar to accommodate its needs, the FHSAA will work with it to create a new one. This would allow for new regional championship series to be created.
Ochoa said the Sept. 18 date was chosen because it’s very close to the FHSAA’s next board meeting, and it also gives schools another month to look at trends and implement CDC guidelines well before the opt-out deadline.
The board also approved a COVID-19 waiver available to schools that wish to have one.
Option 1 was the recommendation of FHSAA Executive Director George Tomyn, who spent the weeks following the July 23 board meeting speaking with the organization’s advisory committees to get a feel for their preferred return-to-play options. Options 1 and 3 garnered far more support among all groups than Option 2, but the desire to return immediately outweighed the desire to wait among most committees. That formed the basis of Tomyn’s recommendation, which he admitted during the Aug. 14 meeting was not supported by any kind of science or the recommendations of the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC).
The vote was a win for the thousands of Florida athletes and parents who joined the state’s high school version of the #WeWantToPlay movement. First started by a tweet from Ocala-Forest football safety Jaydon Hodge, the movement exploded in recent weeks and led to a change.org petition created by Jaime and Tammy Kent, whose son plays football for Cambridge Christian. That petition got more than 40,000 signatures and the Kents also attended the Aug. 14 meeting to persuade the board members to vote for Option 1.