CESA 3 superintendents discuss fall sports proposal sent to WIAA

In continuing coverage of the status of Wisconsin high school sports, the WIAA is set to discuss the fall sports season at 9 a.m. Thursday morning, specifically looking at a proposal described as a short-term option to keep fall sports from being canceled altogether.

This proposal, as we’ve reported, comes from CESA 3, the region made up of 31 rural school districts in southwest Wisconsin. Lancaster superintendent Rob Wagner wrote the proposal, which was then discussed among the rest of CESA 3 and eventually signed by 24 of the superintendents. It suggests that the WIAA move the fall season to spring and spring to summer as opposed to the prospect of cancelling the fall sports season.

The proposal suggests that fall sports next spring could begin in March and continue until late May. Spring sports would then start at the end of May and continue through the end of July.

I reported last week several activities’ directors reactions to the proposal, some in favor and some saying if it were to be the course of action, that plenty of adjustments would need to be considered.

I have spoken with two of the southwest superintendents who signed the proposal letter to ask about the decision-making process.

Brandon Munson from North Crawford says that with the timeline left before fall sports are supposed to normally start, there is no perfect solution.

“Ultimately, our goal is to try to be able to have our student-athletes participate in all three seasons in one way, shape or form,” Munson said. “To me it feels a little shortsighted to just say let’s just get started and see what’s going to happen.”

Madison area schools already canceled fall conference competition this week, and La Crosse County re-entered a severe risk status for COVID-19 spread on Wednesday. If a spread in Wisconsin trends upward into the fall, both the proposal and Munson said that there could be scenarios where positive COVID-19 tests could derail students’ seasons.

“I just see a lot of scenarios potentially happening that are going to take us back to what we had to deal with back in March,” Munson said. “I think if there are other proposals out there that maybe lessen that risk a little bit, why not take a legitimate look at those?

“All we were asking for was just give it some consideration, because it didn’t seem that was happening up to this point with the WIAA. And it’s no fault of anyone’s. We just felt like we have a proposal that–yeah, it has downsides, but everything we’re going to do right now has downsides to it.”

Ithaca superintendent Julie Prouty said this kind of decision at isn’t just up to superintendents and the WIAA.

“We will be guided by the Department of Health and Department of Public Instruction, and we’re going to do the best we can to give the students what they need with sports, but academics do come first,” Prouty said. “And if we’re going to require face coverings all day during the day and then allow them to go on a field and have close contact and not be shielded, it defeats the purpose of us wearing face coverings all day.”

Both superintendents emphasized their recognition of how sports have a positive effect on student-athletes, and they want all three seasons to be offered somehow. They’re not sure which way a WIAA decision might lean, but they are certain that things will look different once those sports get a green light.