Q&A: Commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green on where we are for the fall

Limon Wiggins football

(Dustin Price/dustinpricephotography.com)

We caught up with CHSAA commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green to talk about the upcoming fall sports season, where other states are, in-person learning, and timelines.

Question: As we head into July, a big question that we keep seeing is, "Where we are with starting football this fall?"

Blanford-Green: 51 state high school associations, colleges and professional organizations are all being faced with that same question.

Mid-July will be a pivotal time period for assessment and what our state government and public health officials will allow within the guidelines. Those guidelines will ultimately determine the Association's ability to move forward either fully, with modifications or with incremental sport-specific start dates.

Our staff continues to prepare for a fall sport season.

Q: There is some talk about football players transferring to other states, such as Arizona, Texas, and Louisiana, in order to play. Are those states at a different place than we are? Have they said they will definitely have a season?

Blanford-Green: None of the aforementioned states have definitively said, "We will have football." They have all experienced a rise in Coronavirus cases and outbreaks in the past two weeks. Their state and health officials have recently taken more restrictive measures on public gatherings and social distancing, including a pause on sports.

In fact, the Governor of Arizona just pushed back on athletic contact, all start dates, which translates to delays with practices and competitive start dates for high schools.

Several states have continued their spring moratorium on coach/athlete contact either by state or health orders.

Colorado has incrementally allowed coach/athlete contact for all sports within the local controlled safety guidelines. Colorado coaches and athletes have been given more latitude to begin summer conditioning and competitive readiness more so than some of our counterparts across the nation.

I can respect the decisions of parents and players to seek definitive answers, but I can assure you that no state association has offered a guarantee that they will play. We are all working to make it happen, knowing that the final decisions aren't within our control.

Q: Will students have to be fully back in the classroom for sports to resume?

Blanford-Green: Our bylaws currently have provisions for non-traditional educational models such as home school and online learning.

We are fully prepared for sport and activity implementation to meet the needs of our membership. Our goal is to support our schools and student-participants wherever they land when final decisions are made for education this fall.

There are many challenges ahead but educational leaders across this state are working diligently to return to levels of normalcy with the safety of our students, and those who support them, in the forefront.

Q: Is there anything else you want to add?

Blanford-Green: I understand where students, coaches, and parents are frustrated. Our staff is equally frustrated. We are ready to go, but we are not in a position or place where we can decide to "just let the kids play."

We don't get to play infectious disease doctors or disregard our state and public health guidelines. There can't be definitive answers when our country and state continues to fluctuate within their safe-to-reopen phases.