LHSAA cancels remainder of spring sports seasons

Kyle Riviere
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

After nearly a month of sitting around in limbo, hoping for the best but expecting the worst, high-school players and coaches finally found out the fate of spring sports last Thursday.

It was news that they were expecting, but it was still devastating nonetheless.

After the LHSAA Executive Committee met on Wednesday to discuss what their next course of action would be regarding spring sports, they made their official announcement on Thursday that the remainder of winter and spring competition for the 2019-2020 season is now cancelled, due to Coronavirus pandemic.

A press release from the LHSAA read, “Due to the severity of the virus and its spread, the continued uncertainty of circumstances surrounding our membership, their facilities, coupled with the importance of protecting the health and safety of our athletes, their families, potential spectators, coaches and game officials, the LHSAA Executive Committee, on recommendation from the office and its staff, approved the cancellation of all remaining 2019-20 winter sports championships, as well as all spring sports regular seasons and those representative spring sports championships.”

In addition to ending sports like powerlifting, baseball, softball, outdoor track, gymnastics, tennis and golf, which were in the middle of their seasons, it also ends bowling, which was about to start its playoffs when the LHSAA originally suspended all competition last month.

The LHSAA initially took action mid-way through March after Governor John Bel Edwards made the proclamation that all schools in Louisiana would close until at least April 13, and all gatherings of more than 250 people would be prohibited in order to stop the spread of the Coronavirus throughout the state.

That same day, the LHSAA announced that they would go on with the boy’s basketball state championship games that were in progress. However, as a precaution, they did not allow fans at the events.

The next day, the LHSAA announced they would suspend the spring sports seasons until at least April 13. LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine said that they would be willing to push the spring sports championships as far back as June if they had to do so.

However, much has happened since then, and none of it has been good.

The cases of Coronavirus and the deaths caused by it have skyrocketed here in Louisiana, forcing the Governor to issue a stay-at-order that extends through April 30. He also announced that schools will remain closed until at least that date.

The bleak fate of schools was a huge factor in the LHSAA’s decision. They did not want to bring back spring sports until schools were re-opened.

But last Monday, the Louisiana Association of State Superintendents submitted a written report to Gov. Edwards, recommending that schools be closed for the remainder of academic year.

Gov. Edwards went on to say that there is a strong possibility that this will happen.

It was a tough decision for the LHSAA. Many other states immediately cancelled spring sports a month ago. The LHSAA waited as long as they could before taking such drastic action.

“This decision was not in haste and was discussed with tremendous concern for those senior athletes being affected,” Bonine said. “We realize and concur with the argument about returning to normalcy and allowing seniors to have their moment, just like we did for boy’s basketball championships, unfortunately, circumstances today are tremendously different than circumstances were that week in March.

“We understand the hardships and disappointments everyone, especially the class of 2020, is enduring due to the closure of school facilities, but our unwavering focus must now remain on doing our part by continuing to follow any/all mitigation measures set forth by our Governor.”

Bonine said that the LHSAA will now be discussing summer activities and coming up with a game plan for a scenario in which the virus affects the opening of schools and the beginning of fall sports seasons for 2020-21.

As it currently stands, football and volleyball are set to begin fall practices on Aug. 10-12. The volleyball regular season is set to begin during the final week of that month, and football’s opening week is scheduled for Sept. 5.