OSAA returns final week to season 3 sports, but leaves decisions to add extra competitions up to local schools

Members of the Ontario softball team push around Amy Hernandez in celebration after a game in May of 2019. After having to skip 2020 altogether, the sport is going ahead for the 2020-21 school year and an extra week for culminating events is now optional for Oregon schools.

SALEM

On Wednesday, the Oregon School Activities Association Executive Board opted to return the sixth and final week of Season 3 to the schools to coordinate culminating week events at their discretion, similar to Season 2.

As such, the participation limitations for Season 3 sports have been increased to allow for additional contests in each activity through the culminating weeks. Baseball and softball will receive four additional games, tennis will receive three additional multi-match playing dates, track and field will receive two additional meets and golf will receive four additional nine-hole rounds.

The board met in a work session on Wednesday to discuss feedback from school and consider several different options. The board believes that providing local discretion allows schools to make the best decisions for their school and community.

The board recognizes and appreciates all the hard work member schools and officials are doing on a daily basis to make activities happen for the students in our state. The condensed, overlapping seasons, along with the variations in educational models, has tested the collective resolve of member schools this year but the commitment to provide opportunities for students is to be commended.

During the meeting, the board discussed the current realities impacting schools and activities during the pandemic. While some schools have been in session for all or most of the year, the majority of schools have recently or will soon begin in-person or hybrid schedules. Just as educational models vary throughout the state, the same is true for high school activities. Some schools and districts have set limitations on travel and transportation in playing a very localized schedule while others are competing in a more traditional league schedule which may involve more travel.

Season 2 (Cross-country, football, soccer and volleyball) has seen teams with full schedules and others only competing in a few contests. School teams around the state have had to pause programs due to COVID-19 exposures while others have participated without issues. The disparities outlined above impact the ability to establish fair and equitable qualifying procedures in order to crown a true state champion.

OSAA-sponsored state championship events would require travel across the state for many schools and potentially include overnight stays depending on the sport, thus creating the type of large-scale public events that the Oregon Health Aurthority and Gov. Kate Brown continue to advise against at this time.

Additionally, returning this week to schools lengthens the already shortened season and provides additional participation opportunities for all students at all levels in a program. The board directed staff to support schools in organizing these events at the local/regional level and help provide meaningful experiences for students. OSAA staff will work with member schools to highlight and promote these events, student-athletes, coaches, and stories.

The board also confirmed their support for virtual events for cheerleading, dance/drill, solo music, band, orchestra, choir and speech.

Potential culminating Week events for Season 4 (basketball and wrestling) were discussed but no decisions have been made at this time. The board plans to continue reviewing potential options as that season draws near.

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