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Idaho High School Sports This Fall: A Balancing Act Of Heart And Health

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Michael Lycklama
/
Idaho Statesman

Wednesday, The Idaho High School Activities Association reaffirmed a previous decision to open the high school sports season statewide August 10. Treasure Valley Schools have decided to delay that one week, with games unlikely before September 8.

Superintendents and athletic directors from school districts in the Southern Idaho Conference (SIC) met this week and pushed the start of their practice seasons to August 17. They hope the extra week will give enough time for the number of new cases and hospitalizations in the Treasure Valley to decrease.

Boise Superintendent Coby Dennis told district trustees the decision would be reevaluated weekly, beginning August 11, but no games would be played if Boise remained in Category 3, the highest of three risk levels set by Central District Health. The health department recommends schools remain closed if their community is in Category 3.

Less clear is the situation in West Ada, where district athletic director Jason Warr also hopes community spread of the coronavirus will decrease in the coming weeks. But unlike in Boise, West Ada trustees this week left the door open to set their own risk category and reopen schools; which could also include athletics. The criteria West Ada trustees would use to make that determination was not clear.

Warr told trustees games could be played safely based on protocols recommended by the state activities association, even if trustees downgraded the West Ada District to risk category 2 while the health department kept Ada County as a whole in Category 3.

He said participation in summer athletic programs has been as high as ever — masks and all.

“Our parents have spoken. They're allowing their kids to participate. If somebody had concerns, I think they would have not let their kids come out,” he said.

The conference or individual districts could choose to begin practices August 17, but both Warr and Dennis said SIC administrators were making every effort to work together to avoid the loss of conference games because one district is in school and another isn't. At a minimum, state rules require players to get 10 practices before they can play a game.

The delay to August 17 also means several weeks of non-conference football games set to be played starting the week of August 21 won’t happen. Warr noted two big football matchups; Highland vs. Mountain View and Rocky Mountain hosting Thunder Ridge, Idaho Falls’ newest high school, are casualties of the pandemic.

Ultimately, Boise and West Ada may have an easier path to ensuring at least partial seasons in fall sports because those two districts make up the bulk of the 5A SIC. In smaller classifications, like the 4A SIC, managing the schedules and protocols of individual districts like Middleton, Nampa, Caldwell and Emmett could be more difficult as the virus rages in some places — but not everywhere.

Follow Troy Oppie on Twitter @GoodBadOppie for more local news.

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