Games postponed. Test taking shuttered. Recruiting altered. The spread of coronavirus has impacted nearly everything in high school athletics.
For the past two weeks, students in the area’s four counties (Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas) stayed home following recommendations from the Center for Disease Control. They were scheduled for spring break two weeks ago and continued the hiatus this past week by embarking on virtual classrooms.
Students, though, will not be returning to school anytime soon, if at all.
The Florida Department of Education has closed all public and private K-12 schools through April 15. The Florida High School Athletic Association responded by postponing all meetings and athletic events until further notice. The state’s governing body for sports has not ruled out a return to spring sports just yet. Last week, FHSAA public relations specialist Ashton Mosely said there were no new updates about whether spring sports would resume.
Putting together district tournaments or meets could be difficult, especially after the Hernando County School District cancelled all field trips and events, including athletic activities, for the remainder of the school year. The athletic directors in the area’s other three counties all said there have not been any conversations about scrapping spring sports — yet.
“I would have liked to have been in on the conversation, but I understand it is not my decision to make.” Springstead athletic director Dustin Kupcik said. “I recognize that student, coach and spectator safety is priority number one. We may have ended up here anyway, but I just would have liked to be in line with the FHSAA.”
The worry for many is if the virus—and social distancing — extends beyond the summer and impacts fall sports, particularly football, the biggest revenue-producer for nearly every school. For example, Springstead has home games scheduled this coming season against three county rivals, including Nature Coast Tech.
“That money, as you know, helps propel our whole athletics program,” Kupcik said.