In today’s daily press conference, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson cleared the way for contact sports to be played this fall. In his briefing, the governor acknowledged hearing from many persons across the state on this issue.
Governor Hutchinson stated his decision would affect sports, band, and cheerleading. The governor stated, “As I have said on numerous occasions, we need school this fall. And part of school are the sports and other extracurricular activities that go with school. I have heard from every corner of the state and everybody expressing their opinions on this; from parents to teachers, students, coaches, to moms and school counselors. Based upon that, I want to say that the Arkansas Athletic Association has presented a schedule for football in terms of contact team drills with helmets. And that will be from August 3 through August 7. And so we want our student-athletes in football to proceed with their no-contact team drills with helmets throughout next week. And we want that to proceed. I am asking the AAA to submit a plan and to the Arkansas Department of Health to have football, volleyball, and cheerleading this fall. That will allow the Department of Health to review and develop the guidelines for mitigating the virus risk associated with contact sports.”
Governor Hutchinson continued to state, “Further, I am announcing today that I am establishing a high school sports advisory group to make recommendations to me and to assist the Department of Health in the best practices for protecting the student-athletes and school personnel. And to lead us to have a regular sports season this fall. Sports is a very important part of the development of our youth. If we do not have sports, then many of the student-athletes will be going out-of-state to participate in sports which adds another level of risk and that increases the risk.”
The governor continued to comment that volleyball teams could begin working out and their seasons will start on time. The same is true for marching band programs.
With respect to fans in attendance at games, the Governor indicated that the same guidelines for large gatherings would pertain to high school games. Social distancing, the wearing of masks, etc., would be maintained.
Addressing high school football players, the Governor said, “Grab your helmets, and after practice, grab your masks!”
Resident Press will have more on this development in the next few days. Stay with RP for the latest on fall high school sports!