As part of the information released by Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson in his daily COVID briefings, the Governor cleared the way for multi-team tournaments and events to again be held on single sites within the state. Schools have been conducting post-season tournaments in all sports in multiple locations to avoid the convergence of teams and their fans from around conferences and regions to a single location. The actions have been implemented as a response to the COVID pandemic and required prior approval from the Arkansas Activities Association (AAA) and the Governor’s COVID task force on the safe implementation of scholastic and club sports within Arkansas. The Governor stated that multi-team tournaments for “close-contact school and community teams sports” would be allowed with approval by the site organizers with the Arkansas Department of Health”. Governor Hutchinson further stated that the site organizers would be responsible for COVID compliance during the events.
COVID infection rates continue to decline in the state as well as the total number of citizens who have been vaccinated has also increased. Governor Hutchinson also announced that he anticipates that the state will soon receive a significantly increased supply of vaccine within the next several days, increasing again the number of people who will have access to the vaccine.
Athletes in both fall and spring sports have been leaving the state to play club sports during the off seasons of their scholastic sports to play where restrictions have not been as stringent as they have been in Arkansas. Today’s announcement will also clear the way for club sports to play this spring and into the summer in Arkansas. And of course, as more time passes into the spring and the approaching summer, one would think that the COVID infection rate will continue to decline due to increased numbers of people having received the vaccine.
In the 3A-4 basketball conference, the regional tournament is scheduled to be held at Bergman High School next week. As of the time of this story, it is not known if today’s announcement by the Governor’s Office will clear the way for the regional tournament to be played exclusively in Bergman, or, if the AAA and the member schools of the regional tournament will elect to continue playing at the sites of the higher seeded teams in each pairing. As soon as this is known, Resident Press will bring it to you.
Today’s announcement is a positive development for many reasons for all people in Arkansas. It is also very welcomed news for high school athletes across the state. Hopefully, all of us are on track for a healthier 2021.