The Idaho High School Activities Association did not cancel or delay the start of the fall sports seasons last week. It left it to local schools to decide whether to field teams during a pandemic in which the novel coronavirus is rampant in the state.
It unnecessarily left coaches, parents and athletes in limbo. The high school sports governing body dithered, sputtered and ran for the sidelines when faced with a tiny number of schools in counties with few cases of COVID-19 that insisted on playing. But the clock is still running for student athletes who risk exposing themselves, their families and their communities to the highly infectious virus.
One IHSAA board member said that it wouldn’t be fair to cancel the season for every school. On the contrary, it’s not fair to any school to refuse to cancel it.
COVID-19 has made sports, including football, soccer and volleyball, prime staging grounds for spreading the virus. Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has become the nation’s expert on the virus, told NBC Sports in May that “if people are in such close contact as football players are on every single play, then that’s the perfect setup for spreading.”
Oregon’s high school officials called it differently and canceled that state’s fall sports. It is all but certain that the college football season will be canceled. Pro football players are beginning to opt out of playing in the National Football League out of concern for their health.
Idaho is logging 3,565 new COVID-19 cases a week. In July alone, the state saw 14,746 new cases, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
The writing is on the wall. The IHSAA should save local school districts the headache, do its job and cancel the fall sports season now.