High school team sports in Arkansas are one step closer to returning after today’s announcement from the governor’s office.
Today, Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson announced his decision that many athletes, coaches, and fans have been waiting for. Coming 24 hours after the initial date to make the announcement, Arkansas high school sports fans did not exactly receive the message that had been hoped for.
The good news is that the announcement clears the way for baseball and softball to resume play on June 1. The clearance will come with many restrictions that will feel unusual to everyone concerned, but, at least there will be the opportunity to resume play.
The not-so-good news in today’s announcement was that contact sports were not cleared for play. Hutchinson stated that those sports would be “revisited on June 30.” Additionally, the announcement today pertained only to K-12 (kindergarten through 12th grades) team sports and did not include intercollegiate sports. So, for Raxorbacks football fans and football fans of all Arkansas colleges and universities, there was no mention of any changes for college team sports.
Included in today’s announcement were modifications and restrictions that will be implemented for summer baseball and softball. Those include: 1) physical distancing will be required except during active sport activity, 2) athletes, coaches, and personnel should be asked and screened for symptoms and exposure, 3) face coverings should be in place for everyone 10 years of age and older, 4) athletes can remove face coverings during active sport play, 5) showers are prohibited, and lockers should only be used for storage, 6) players should avoid high fives, huddles, and any other non-sport contact, and 7) personal equipment should be used whenever possible, and anything shared should be disinfected.
The guidelines also permit other sport athletes to workout with own equipment, and conditioning / training is permitted with limited group size and social distancing.
Team sports that are not permitted to practice or to compete are close-contact sports and activities that include basketball, wrestling, football, volleyball, soccer, and martial arts.
At the publication time of this story, it is unknown to Resident Press what the next steps will be in the process of returning to play. It is, however, anticipated, that the Arkansas Activities Association (AAA) will soon release guidelines for schools with respect to the current dead period that is due to expire on May 30 and the path that will be taken after that date.
Stay with Resident Press for more on this story as information is available.