The GHSA has tentative plans on how to react if the swine flu reaches Georgia high schools and affects spring sports.
The threat of swine flu has postponed all high school athletic competition in Texas and Alabama. Georgia’s governing body is monitoring the situation and has taken no action at this time.
“If Georgia were put in the same situation that Texas and Alabama finds itself in, then obviously all the extracurricular activities would have to be stopped,” GHSA executive director Ralph Swearngin said. “We’ve had some of these same type of discussions a few years back when there was the possibility of the bird flu. There were concerns that the epidemic was going to hit, and the CDC and other groups had seminars for our school people.”
The GHSA’s top priority would be to complete the state championships of all of its spring sports.
Here’s how things might work under Sweargin’s swine flu scenario:
Wait on others before reacting swiftly. “Once the word came out, the schools would be out of session and there would be no public gatherings allowed. We would look at for how long it would be … that would determine what kind of decision we would make about our playoffs.”
Examine a timeline to resume competition. “In Texas, they have May 11 as the date to pick back up sports. From my perspective, that wouldn’t be a firm date for us. We’d have to see what the people in authority determine about the high schools before we lay out our part of the plan … otherwise it would be a waste of energy.”
Finish the schedule of spring sports. “What we’re talking about is the last 2-4 weeks of the school year here. If they said the [postponement] would be a week, then we would look how to restructure our playoffs. If they don’t know how long it is, and we’re getting ready to get out of school, then we might have a worst-case scenario. There would be no spring state championships this year and we’d move on.”
Focus on the state championships. The finals for gymnastics are Friday, while lacrosse, tennis, golf, soccer and boys track are scheduled to wrap up by May 9. Girls track ends on May 16, while the baseball championships series are planned for May 29-30.
“The primary goal, for a lot of reasons, would be to complete the state championships. If the [postponement] were to happen next week, then we could push back the championships back.”
Figure out a baseball plan. “If we lost two weeks of baseball in the early rounds of the playoffs, then that would be a little bit more of a problem because pitching. We’re not going to change the pitching rules. We may to have to put the playoff games closer together, which would mean the schools would have to suddenly discover a few new pitchers.” Note: Pitchers are allowed to throw only 10 innings one day, and a total of 14 innings over four consecutive calendar days.
Leave spring football practice up the individual school districts. “That’s kind of an interesting thing. That would essentially be a local school decision. We’re not really involved in that.”
Note: Sweargin emphasized his scenarios are simply his best educated guesses how events may unfold. “That’s all presumptuous. We have no idea at this time what the scope of the problem might be.”