Arkansas Governor’s Decision on Contact Sports Still Up in the Air

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Today was the day..June 30…the day that high school sports fans in Arkansas had been hoping to hear the long-awaited words from governor Asa Hutchinson that contact sports in Arkansas would be allowed to resume.

In today’s daily press briefing, Governor Hutchinson was asked for an update on the status of the resumption of contact sports practices in Arkansas by a member of the state media. Governor Hutchinson prefaced his response with what sounded like concern for players and teams going out of state to Oklahoma and Texas to play summer sports where the standards were not as strict as Arkansas’s. Governor Hutchinson said, “Let me just add to that, it appears to me that there are some of our athletes that are in summer sports that are going to Oklahoma and Texas, and I don’t know how they are doing that, but it seems that they’re playing where the guidelines may be a little looser than some of the other states.” Governor Hutchinson went on to say, with reference to the possible resumption of contact sports full practices and games, “But, I am anxious to play. We are continuing to look at that, but, we have it on “pause” right now until we get these cases (statewide positivity numbers) down I don’t expect movement to take place to a Phase 3 or opening it up for those additional contact sports. I am anxious for that to change and hopefully we will get there if we all do our duty…do our responsibility. I do get messages from people that say “whatever it takes, let’s do it so that we can have sports next year” and we want to do that, but we have to be smart and we have to get this (state’s infection rate) under control.”

So, in short, the governor did not make the announcement that everyone had hoped for. It appears from today’s statement that the full resumption of contact sports may be linked to the state moving to a Phase 3 reopening. Governor Hutchinson did not announce a target date for all of this to happen, so, the message may be, if everyone helps get the state to Phase 3, the sooner this happens the sooner contact sports may be allowed to resume.

Silver linings to today’s press conference were the announcement of COVID rates beginning to decrease, especially in northwest Arkansas. Secondly, the state will end the fiscal year in better shape than anticipated. Public schools will be fully funded next year. So, the stage is set for the next school year; now, we just have to work together to get the infection rate down over the next 30 days.

Resident Press will continue to report on this story as events dictate. In the meantime, enjoy your Independence Day holiday, and stay safe out there!

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