MINT HILL, N.C. (WBTV) - Student-athletes across the state of North Carolina received more clarity regarding the future of school sports Wednesday when the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) released it’s full amended sports schedule.
The first sports scheduled to begin in North Carolina are cross country and volleyball. Practice for those two sports will begin on November 4.
One of the most notable changes to the sports calendar pertains to football. According to the schedule, football practice won't begin until February of 2021. Games are scheduled to start February 26.
Elton Clawson, a father of two CMS students, spoke to WBTV Wednesday regarding the new schedule changes. He said he has twin seniors at Independence High School, Tyson and Taylor. Tyson is a varsity football player and Taylor is a cheerleader. Clawson said his kids are longing to get back to school.
“I’ve never had my kids look at me and say, ‘daddy I wish there was school',” said Clawson jokingly.
He said he had heard about the new 2020-2021 sports calendar and was happy sports will be played at some point during the year.
"At least they're allowing them to play. That's the big thing is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel," said Clawson.
However, the father noted that many student-athletes will be faced with difficult decisions.
Clawson said his son has committed to play football at UNC-Charlotte next year and is now considering graduating early. If his senior football season starts in February, he may miss it.
"He also knows the value of being a senior," said Clawson. "It's having his one last ride in high school and he knows that you never get that opportunity again."
The NCHSAA released a lengthy statement from Que Tucker, the organization's commissioner, regarding the new sports schedule. A portion of the statement addresses the risks associated with student athlete's returning to the field.
“We feel it is critically important to provide opportunities for North Carolina student athletes to participate, and compete, in education-based athletics. While there are risks with resuming NCHSAA sanctioned athletics, it has also become very clear that there are significant negative consequences with not providing this option to student athletes,” wrote Tucker.
Dr. Kevin Burroughs, who specializes in primary care sports medicine at the Atrium Health Musculoskeletal Institute, spoke to WBTV in an interview about athletes returning the fields.
“How is it going to be safe and will it be safe for everyone or will there be unique situations for each individual sport?” Dr. Burroughs questioned. “You may say, cross country sounds good because it spreads out on the course, but the start is the big challenge because you have a lot of people there together getting off at the same time.”
Clawson said he's happy to see a sports schedule, but he thinks the kids could be playing now if the proper safety measures were put in place.
“If the coaches do it the right way, meaning we’re wearing masks, we’re maybe doing some sort of social distancing, we’re being clean, we’re hand washing, they’re getting parental consent, I feel it should be a go,” said Clawson.