KHSAA trying to balance sports and safety as COVID-19 cases surge

Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 8:57 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - As COVID cases surge and some districts shift to NTI learning, more than 20 high school football games statewide have been canceled this weekend.

“Unfortunately when you look at it from a global perspective sometimes local control is not pretty, because it’s sometimes inconsistent,” KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett said.

Tackett recognizes both the risks posed by the delta variant, and the willingness of athletes to play.

“We’re trying to strike a balance, this whole thing has had such an impact on students at their most impressionable age,” Tackett said. “It is a mental health crisis and a physical health crisis, and that keeps us on a tightrope the whole time.”

Tackett pointed to the vaccine as being the issue at the heart of these cancellations.

“Our people in our state who are refusing to get vaccinated have caused this problem,” Tackett said. “That’s who’s ended up in the hospital, that’s who’s ending up everywhere else. This variant is not very tolerant of people who don’t have a strong immune system.”

Tackett cited health officials in saying that quarantines are preventable by getting vaccinated. So more vaccinations would lead to less quarantines and, in turn, less games getting called off.

“It doesn’t mean that you penalize the unvaccinated. It’s simply a matter of, they’re making choices that have consequences when they don’t do it,” Tackett said.

As games carried on Friday evening, the state’s daily report showed that people under 18 accounted for over 30% of all COVID cases. Tackett said he doesn’t see a need for the KHSAA to step in currently, but he noted the association will continually observe and adapt as time passes.

“At some point, the local people have to realize it’s affecting their community. We encourage them to continue to make the best decisions based on health and not based on winning and losing,” Tackett said.

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