The Denver Broncos are slated to play the season opener next week on Monday Night Football against the Tennessee Titans. Meanwhile, college and high school football around the state are on pause because of the COVID-19 pandemic with hopes of playing in the spring.
But, for high school football, teams might return to competition much sooner. Polis said Tuesday he would work with the Colorado High School Activities Association to allow high school football to resume this fall.
“We want to work with (CHSAA),” Polis said. “If their board moves forward and wants to propose a fall season for CHSAA football, we would be thrilled to work with them to make that happen for the districts that are ready to go. I think there’s some opportunity to have a fall season for those who are ready.”
That news came a month after CHSAA announced high school football would be moved to spring. Only cross-country, boys golf, boys tennis and softball gained initial approval to play condensed fall seasons.
So, CHSAA broke up the school year into four athletic seasons instead of the traditional three of fall, winter and spring.
Approved fall sports fell into Season A. Season B is made up of basketball and wrestling and was not to begin until Jan. 4. Football fell into Season C and practices were slated to begin Feb. 22, and games on March 4. Then, baseball and other traditional fall sports were moved to Season D with a schedule that would stretch until the end of June for some activities. That was so that football and baseball seasons would not conflict.
After months of backlash from parents, players and coaches around the state, it now appears likely CHSAA and Polis will come to an agreement this week to start fall football this month.
Still, Polis said some areas would not be ready to play this fall, especially those that have not returned to on-campus learning and areas where local health guidelines may be more strict than the state’s.
“Clearly, returning to in-classroom instruction should be the priority,” Polis said. “Districts that aren’t even back in the classroom and aren’t running buses, they want to provide the football experience, but many of them won’t be ready until Season C in the spring.
“If there are schools and districts that are ready to move forward with fall football and can implement that quickly, we want to encourage CHSAA to allow for that as long as they are running an analogous process in the C season for districts and teams that are not ready to compete in the A season.”
Nebraska, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming are among the 18 states that have moved forward with fall seasons as scheduled. Colorado was one of 15 states to move football to the spring along with New Mexico.
Now, 40 states plan to play this fall, Seven have started.
With new coronavirus cases declining across the state and nearly 14,000 signatures on a Change.org petition to begin fall football, conversations are underway in Colorado to join the majority across the U.S.
“In recent weeks, we have seen reconsideration at the Association, school district and conference level regarding the resuming fall sports, especially football,” CHSAA Commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green said in a statement posted to CHSAANow.com on Monday night. “We also hear those who are advocating for a reconsideration of the 2020-21 sport calendar. We continue to work collaboratively with our state, health and educational officials. We’re monitoring information from other states to see if it’s applicable to reconsiderations in Colorado.”
Assistant commissioner Adam Bright, who oversees football, said a clearer picture is possible within 24 hours.
“Over the course of the past week, this has prompted conversations at the state level to see if some outdoor fall sports could resume under the state safety guidelines, including variances that would be needed to make this happen. We appreciate their willingness to keep the dialogue open. Our office will continue to provide further updates if any changes occur with the 2020-21 activities calendar.”
Volleyball and boys soccer also were moved to spring, but there was no indication a reconsideration of volleyball has taken place.
Under state guidelines, only 25 people, including coaches, players, officials and game workers, can participate in an activity on the same field at one time. Only 10 can gather for indoor sports. Those restrictions would have to be changed to allow for more participation to accommodate the resumption of fall sports.
Tuesday, Polis announced 5,700 fans may attend Denver Broncos home games beginning Sept. 27. The stadium holds 76,125 people.
jlivingston @durangoherald.comThis is a developing story. For more, continue to follow www.durangoherald.com.