Two months before the 2020 Texas high school football is scheduled to kick off, no one knows whether the season will go on and – if so – when. To save the season, an unprecedented idea – flip-flopping fall and spring sports – has gained support among Texas coaches.
First Baptist (Dallas) football coach Jason Lovvorn, for example, is calling for fall sports to move to spring,
“If we aren't proactive in making this switch, we're going to be reactive and end up canceling those fall sports once we get started,” Lovvorn said in an interview with the Dallas Morning News. “It's going to take TAPPS and the UIL working together. Officials cross over; our non-district games cross over.”
Officially, schools are sticking with the Aug. 3 date for mandatory practices. Texas football is scheduled to kick off Aug. 27.
In statements to the media, the UIL remains optimistic about a fall sports season. Uncertainty, however, has created anxiety on practice fields statewide. What three months ago was unthinkable – canceling the fall season for high school athletics – is now a real possibility.
The University Interscholastic League said it will consider all ideas to preserve fall sports.
“Every option is on the table when it comes to trying to make sure we get to have our seasons,” UIL Deputy Executive Director Jamey Harrison said. “Right now, we are not looking at flipping seasons. We are aware that there have been folks discussing that.”
Harrison and the board doesn't favor Lovvorn's idea. However, with coronavirus numbers spiking statewide, Harrison said restrictions might have to be placed on how far teams can travel.
The uptick in COVID-19 cases across Texas has been an unhappy trend that has raised more questions about fall sports programs. The answers could affect high school sports in Texas for generations to come.
“It's an interesting precedent being set,” Westwood Athletic Director Richard Bishop said. “Are we saying one positive case or one exposure shuts the whole thing down? If that's the precedent, are we shutting schools down? That's the worrisome part. What's the precedent we're going to set if we get a positive case?”
Palestine Athletic Director Lance Angel remains optimistic about Friday night lights this fall, but acknowledges he's concerned about the state's spike in COVID-19 cases.
Angel also worries about the possibility of a pause in the season.
The UIL hasn't restricted teams' schedules – yet. More than 140 schools statewide have already suspended workouts because of positive tests or COVID-19 concerns.
Club teams in Texas resumed playing baseball and softball games earlier this month. Athletes in those sports are used to competing and practicing in fall, outside of the UIL season.