The outbreak of COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on the world, as the pandemic affects seemingly all parts of life in Texas and beyond. And now, even Texas high school football cannot escape its impact.
The UIL announced Thursday that it is extending its suspension of all sanctioned activities until at least May 4, with all contests, practices, rehearsals and workouts suspended until further notice. The announcement comes on the heels of Texas governor Greg Abbott’s decree that all schools, bars, gyms and dine-in restaurants be closed through April 3.
The UIL said it would attempt to complete state championships in the spring sports — including the suspended boys basketball tournament — but said the situation is fluid.
“We are working diligently on contingency plans to conduct state championships in each of the activities that have been suspended,” UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt said in the press release. “While the immediate future is unclear, we are committed to providing these much-desired activities to all Texas students and will prepare for all possible outcomes , including extended school closures.”
What does this mean for Texas high school football?
The short version: this probably means no spring football. Texas high school football programs in Class 6A and Class 5A can opt to have 18 practices in the spring in a 34-day span, in lieu of an extra week preseason practice before the season begins in August. With practices suspended until at least May 4th, it is very unlikely that teams will choose to play spring football on a truncated timetable. If schools do forgo spring football, they will instead take advantage of the extra week of summer practices, and many schools are already pairing up to add a second preseason scrimmage.
Now, there is still some hope — technically, the earliest that "games and contests" can happen is May 4; while practices, rehearsals and workouts are suspended "until further notice." If schools are back in session before then, the UIL could lift the practice suspension and allow teams to run spring football. That said, it seems like a bit of a long shot.
This is also potentially bad news for 7-on-7 football — though technically not a UIL-sanctioned activity, 7-on-7 state qualifying tournaments begin in late April and peak in early-to-mid June. It is rather unlikely that the State 7-on-7 organization (which is comprised of Texas high school football coaches) would end-around the UIL and run an event during the suspension. The state tournament in late June in College Station isn’t in peril quite yet, but any lengthier suspension would probably have a significant impact on that.
It’s important to note: this is a very fluid situation, and things can and will change — including, potentially, the UIL adjusting its rules and schedule. But for now, COVID-19 is making its presence felt in Texas high school football.
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