The University Interscholastic League, which governs all Texas high school sports, waited until Friday afternoon, but has announced it is suspending competition through March 29 due to coronavirus caution.
And then on Friday evening, about 7 p.m., Kilgore Independent School District followed many area schools, and school districts across the country, in calling off classes next week.
This is a situation that seems to be changing minute by minute. The News Herald’s print edition that hits the streets Saturday morning will not have this story; at press time for our sports section, the UIL had not yet made the decision to suspend extracurricular activities, and Kilgore ISD had not made its decision, either.
In a constant, sustained effort to give you, the readers, the most up-to-date information we have, we are posting this announcement here on kilgorenewsherald.com. Check this site continuously for any updates and they will be posted moments after we get them.
Back to the late-Friday afternoon announcement. The UIL’s suspension of its spring sports schedule came a couple of hours before KISD's announcement. It means sports like soccer, baseball, softball, track and field, spring tennis, and golf are all at least on hold throughout the next two weeks. The UIL’s statement allows for practices to continue, based on the decision of each individual school district.
But KISD Superintendent Andy Baker has said no school next week, and no practices.
From the UIL's statement:
“To support the health and safety of our students and communities, the University Interscholastic League is suspending all UIL-sanctioned contests due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Texas. Effective March 16, all UIL interscholastic competition is suspended through March 29.
“Rehearsals and practices may be held at the discretion of the local school district.
“We are urging our member schools and their communities to stay vigilant and take every possible precaution to remain safe and healthy,” UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt said. “We understand there is a lot of uncertainty during this unprecedented time. Please know UIL leadership is working diligently to adjust to this rapidly-evolving situation and will share updates as soon as possible.”
From a pure human and safety standpoint, the decision seems to be a very reasonable one. No one wants anyone to be sick, or to put anyone in danger. From the sports perspective, it’s tough, because it plays havoc with the schedule, assuming the virus runs its course with hopefully no fatalities or even sickness.
Kilgore soccer was nearing the end of its regular season – the Bulldogs and Lady ‘Dogs were to conduct the final two games of their regular year this next week, at Tatum and then at home against Spring Hill.
On the Kilgore High School soccer boosters Facebook page, a new playoff schedule has been placed. Under the new format, provided classes begin and the UIL lifts the suspension on sports, the first round of the soccer playoffs will begin April 14. Area (round two) would begin April 18, and so on, with regional tournaments being played the weekend of April 24-25, and the state tournament in Georgetown to be played April 29 through May 2.
That would be about two, 2 1/2 weeks later than normal.
Other sports' fates weren't as immediately clear on Friday. Tennis was about to see the end of the regular spring season on the horizon, with district tournaments coming the first week of April.
Baseball and softball were just beginning district play, and track and field, like tennis, had a couple of dates remaining before their district meets.
With blessing, the UIL will be able to keep its planned date of March 29 to resume spring sports, and they will hopefully be finished.
The coronavirus hysteria is very reminiscent of a time were interrupted about 10 years ago by H1N1, or swine flu. The swine flu, according to Reuters news service, was much more devastating than coronavirus has been so far. Back on April 26, 2009, the UIL suspended sports play due to the swine flu, and rescheduled events and resumed them later. Here’s that announcement from April, 2009: https://www.uiltexas.org/press-releases/detail/uil-schedules-altered-due-to-swine-flu
If there’s anything further, it’ll be posted on kilgorenewsherald.com.