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Monday, February 26, 2024

Governor Extends School Closure to April 17; AAA Sports Suspension Period Unknown


Today, Arkansas Governor Asa Huchinson extended the closure period of all Arkansas schools to April 17. Students will remain home and will utilize alternative methods of instruction (internet-based classes and lessons, etc.). Originally, Arkansas schools were closed until March 30. The Arkansas Activities Association followed suit by enacting a dead period for all Arkansas high school athletics until the same date. With today’s announcement, it us unknown as to if and / or how long the AAA may extend the dead period in Arkansas.

Resident Press has contacted the AAA to ask if the governor’s announcement today will also extend the dead period to the same date of April 17. As soon as RP receives this response, we will share it with our readers.

But for the immediate consideration, if the dead period were to be extended to April 17, that would leave approximately one month of athletics remaining in the academic year. That month would normally include a week of district playoffs, regional playoffs, and state playoffs. RP contacted a local athletic director today, prior to the governor’s announcement, and posed the question of if sports were to resume on March 30, how would conferences address the remaining schedules, games missed, and playoffs for conference championships. Because so much of this is an unknown, and events are changing by the hour, it was a bit of an unfair question. The athletic director’s response was, “we suspect the AAA will release some guidance if spring sports return.” This response, combined with the facts surrounding each day, bring into question as to whether we will see high school sports again for the remainder of this school year. In fact, with fall sports starting in August, and the normal summer practices and seven-on-seven football games, etc., that occur throughout the summer, it remains to be seen how this will affect the sports seasons in the fall, as well as the remainder of this year. To take this a step further, as a nation, to continue sports at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels in the fall, we have to be healthy enough to place several hundred and up to tens of thousands in a stadium at one time, all around the nation, to be able to safely bring back sports. Certainly, unbelievable times that many of us could have never imagined.

Club sports and travel teams will almost certainly be affected, as well. The loss of weekend tournaments around the state and nation will result in lost opportunities for players to play and develop. Club tournaments are big money makers and their shutdown will have an economic ripple effect on those associations, t-shirt printers, concessions sales, etc. In short, club tournaments will suffer negative economic effects along with every other economic sector of our nation.

But, before we all jump off the bridge in pure panic, we have to remember that aggressive measures are being taken to contain and eradicate the virus, and much is being learned in all aspects. Perhaps we will see a positive result from all of the containment and prevention measures that are being taken that will bring our nation’s crisis to an earlier end than what is feared by many. The fate of our high school sports is a microcosm of our society at large, and just as with all other parts of our lives, our appetites to see sports return will have to be modified and taken in stride.

As RP learns of more information from the AAA and other sources regarding these issues, we will share it immediately with our readers.

In the meantime, take care, stay safe, and stay with Resident Press for the latest developments.

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Jim Best
Jim Best
Jim Best is a man of many talents. His storied career in Arkansas education led him to a new passion, and hidden gifts in sports journalism.
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