The University Interscholastic League is currently planning to begin fall sports on schedule in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a statement the UIL sent to coaches in an email.
“At this time, the UIL plans to begin fall competition seasons as scheduled on the UIL calendar,” the statement reads. “The UIL will continue to work with state officials and monitor CDC and other federal guidance to determine any further modifications to this guidance.”
Alvarado Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Jeff Dixon said he was encouraged to hear that news, adding that it gave him a confidence boost moving forward after previously being unsure of the chances of the 2020 season taking place because of spiking COVID-19 cases.
“I think the biggest news is that the UIL is expecting to start on schedule with no delays for the fall sports,” Dixon said. “That piece was the unknown. ... Safety comes first. I’m excited, but at the same time I’m very, very cautious that we maintain the safety precautions set.”
The UIL released new guidelines on Wednesday that dealt with high school workouts resuming Monday, which included mandatory masks while entering and exiting, and for anyone not actively exercising, as well as the ability to hold offense vs. defense drills, which were previously prohibited.
Also included in Wednesday’s update, schools will be allowed to provide students access to locker rooms and shower facilities beginning Monday, so long as school districts adhere to appropriate COVID-19 related measures — another step in the right direction.
“That obviously was going to have to happen for us to start Aug. 3,” Dixon noted.
Even though locker rooms will now be accessible, no clothing or towels may be laundered on site or shared during workouts.
While the UIL is planning to start fall sports on time, Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa told MSNBC’s Garrett Haake he thinks it’s doubtful football will take place this fall.
“That’s a true contact sport, I don’t see how we can pull that off,” Hinojosa told Haake. “There’s been some discussion of moving it to the spring, but we’ll have to wait and see. I don’t, I seriously doubt that we can pull that off.”
Cleburne Head Football Coach Casey Walraven said he’s opposed to that viewpoint.
“I firmly believe that we’re going to play and I’m staying positive with that,” Walraven said. “... I want to be on the positive side of things. I’m grateful we’ve got people here who want kids safe but they also know the importance of everything else that’s a part of their lives, such as football and other sports. I’m glad that I’m not a part of a district right now that’s saying things that are not exactly true yet. I don’t agree with those comments but everybody’s got their own opinions.
“I know everybody at the end of the day wants kids to be safe but we’re all doing our best in talking to doctors and getting medical advice and following the UIL and TEA guidelines. And as long as they allow us to do it, we’ll continue to be safe and move forward.”
The 2020 Texas high school football season — the 100th season of UIL football — is scheduled to begin Aug. 3 with practices. The first scrimmages are set for Aug. 13 with week 1 of action tentatively scheduled for Aug. 27.