Tuesday morning, the UIL announced an amended 2020-21 athletic calendar to accommodate for the COVID-19 outbreak across the state. This included a delayed start for 5A and 6A football with the season carrying over into early 2021. Needless to say that leaves a lot of uncertainty, so here are some of my biggest questions:
1. What happens to Class 4A programs in hard-hit counties?
Cameron, Dallas, Harris, Hidalgo and El Paso County are among the hardest hit areas in Texas by COVID-19. With Class 4A starting the season as-is, what will the impact be to valley programs like Hidalgo, a metroplex school like Dallas Carter or more or less the entirety of District 1-4A DI in El Paso? These are similar questions to be asked for select schools in smaller classifications too, but particularly 4A where the discrepancy is much more varied with metro and rural locals.
District 8-4A DI and District 11-4A DI are Dallas and Houston ISD-centered districts being asked to make some big calls with the season starting on time, not to mention a similar story 16-4A DI in the RGV. Could we see forfeitures of non-district games? It’s not out of the question.
It should be noted that in its press release, the UIL has given individual District Executive Committees authority to handle specific cases on their own. So, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see every option on the table for these programs.
2. How does this conflict with county restrictions?
Let’s stick with Houston-based District 11-4A DI for simplicity’s sake. According to Houston ISD’s own extra-curricular regulations, the earliest these programs could seemingly play would be October despite the season kicking off on August 17th per the UIL schedule. Other programs across the state, especially in 4A will be put in a similar position with no centralized guideline set in regard to COVID-19 restrictions. Will they be forced to construct a truncated schedule to follow both the UIL and county rules?
3. Non-district scrambling
It’s not unlikely to see cross-classification scheduling in non-district slates, but now with the highest classifications on a delayed start, plenty of 4A programs will need to reshuffle the deck.
But something to consider across the board when it comes to the non-district is the potential to reschedule games with a higher emphasis on localization. Is unnecessary far travel the safest idea over the next two months?
4. Will a staggered schedule affect the state championship?
Playing every single game from 1A through 6A all inside AT&T Stadium was a statement from the UIL that every classification is treated equally.
But this season, the state championships will be played on two separate weekends with 1A through 4A playing on December 16-19 and 5A and 6A playing in January. Does that open the door for changes to location? Theoretically you’d like to believe no, but uncertainty has been the only guarantee over the last month.
5. Early enrollee participation
How does this affect 6A and 6A recruits who enroll early? The typical Texas baseball and softball playoff schedule already spills over past the graduation date so early winter graduates in this football’s case should be treated similarly. But what about those that enroll in the spring college semester?
If you’re graduated and registered for a collegiate curriculum that starts mid-January, will you be eligible to play if your team is in the midst of a run that could stretch to the state finals set to be played on January 11? It’s possible that they make an exception, but it’s something to certainly think about.
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