There won’t be any high school football in Rhode Island this fall, but most other scholastic sports will be allowed to go on and there is the possibility that football will be played in the spring, Gov. Gina Raimondo said Friday.
Acknowledging that school sports are “vital,” the Democratic governor said at a news conference that this fall’s middle and high school sports season will be shorter than normal because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Any of us who played sports … know how important it is in the life of a child,” she said. “It’s about having a chance to have a mentor, who’s an adult, who’s a coach, seeing your friends, learning how to get up when you fall down, learning discipline, how to be a competitor, get some fresh air, be healthy.”
Practice will begin on Sept. 21, a week after the scheduled return of students to the classroom, and competition will begin in early October. The season will wrap up by Thanksgiving.
— RIIL (@RIIL_sports) September 4, 2020
Football, because it is a close contact sport, and volleyball, because it is played indoors with a common ball, won’t be allowed, Raimondo said.
“That, I understand is a great disappointment to a lot of kids out there, but I don’t want you to lose hope,” she said.
Tennis and cross country can go on as normal, while soccer, field hockey and cheering will be played with modifications. Those modifications are still being formulated by state health officials and the Rhode Island Interscholastic League, the governing body of school sports in the state.
If the coronavirus is under adequate control, football and volleyball may be played in the spring. On the other hand, if there are virus outbreaks in the fall, sports could be scaled back.
The decision comes hours after neighboring Connecticut also voted to cancel football in 2020, although it will allow girls volleyball outdoors and with masks.
So far, the CIAC, Connecticut’s high school athletics governing body, has not committed to trying a spring option. The CIAC’s Board of Control voted to remove a spring option last month as it attempted to negotiate a fall start with the state’s department of Health.
Raimondo also reminded people not to hold large parties over the Labor Day weekend to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19. She reminded the state there was an uptick in cases after the July Fourth weekend. She singled out college students in particular, and said the state is keeping a close eye on bars and neighborhoods where college students are known to gather.
Beginning with Utah on Aug. 13, 17 states have already started high school football seasons with an additional six beginning this weekend, including Georgia and Florida.