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HHSAA postponing football, several other fall sports to January

State’s rising COVID-19 numbers reason for decision; ‘low-risk’ air riflery, bowling to proceed

Members of the Lahainaluna High School football team hold up the championship trophy after winning the school’s fourth straight Division II state championship last November. The HHSAA on Wednesday postponed the start of several fall sports, including football, to January 2021. ANDREW LEE photo

Bobby Grossman was caught by surprise, while Tyson Valle was expecting the announcement on Wednesday that most fall high school sports in the state have been postponed to January 2021.

The Hawaii High School Athletic Association executive board approved by majority vote on Monday to postpone the start of moderate- and high-risk fall sports to next year, which affects cheerleading, cross country, football and girls volleyball, a news release from the HHSAA stated on Wednesday.

Bowling and air riflery, deemed low-risk, will be allowed to go ahead as scheduled this fall.

“This is the first time I’m hearing it — my phone has been blowing up the last 10 minutes,” Valle, the King Kekaulike High School football coach, said late Wednesday afternoon. “With the whole COVID thing, I think it’s kind of obvious that it was going to happen. I mean, it’s not a surprise. It’s just when you have a sport like football you’ve got contact, how do you keep the distance? It was bound to happen, we all kind of knew it.”

Grossman, who has guided Seabury Hall to six Division II girls cross country state titles, felt his sport could’ve been run safely this fall.

“I don’t know why we can’t run cross country. Cross country is a non-contact (sport),” Grossman said. “We can spread it out at the start line, we can get a better finish line — instead of having the chute, we could spread it out and they could go different directions.

“At practice, you could have small groups and separate it that way. Have a tryout situation so some of these teams don’t have 50 kids on a team, so you may have just six, seven varsity and seven (junior varsity). I don’t know — I mean we’re outside for the majority of our workouts.”

The action by the board was based on public health and safety due to the rising number of positive COVID-19 cases statewide, the release said.

Additionally, other HHSAA-sanctioned sports classified as low-risk were not moved up on the calendar to avoid the possibility of missed class time when students and teachers are adjusting to new routines at the start of the new school year.

“The HHSAA will continue to work with our member leagues in determining where to place these affected sports,” HHSAA Executive Director Chris Chun said in the release. “If our state can flatten the curve, hopefully, these sports will be able to be played at some point in the school year.”

Grossman said he understands the hesitance of some of the athletes and families in his sport.

“If the parents don’t feel comfortable, don’t do it — I respect that also,” he said. “But the kids need something to do.”

Valle said that he is in favor of football now being played in the spring, not during the winter months.

“I would lean more so towards spring, I think that might be the best thing,” he said. “From what I’ve been reading, this COVID thing is supposed to get worse during the winter. I think the kids will be OK, but I’m just kind of concerned if we do something during the winter what those kids will be bringing home to their grandparents, their parents, aunts and uncles. I think that’s where the concern’s at.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

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