A group of parents have submitted a petition to attempt to have the DIAA Board of Directors reverse their decision that suspended fall high school sports in Delaware into the second semester.
Last Friday, the DIAA Board voted unanimously, with one abstention, to shift the fall sports season into 2021, with winter sports starting the athletics calendar at some point in December.
Kelly Boettcher is the parent of two senior athletes at Caravel Academy, and she created the "Delaware HS Athletes Parent Group" on Facebook, that along with a petition created by Lisa Hughes, aims to get the board to reconsider.
That petition had over 4,200 signatures as of noon on August 13, 2020.
The Delaware Board of Education is slated to discuss, and potentially approve, the DIAA's plans at a special meeting on Friday morning at 8:30 a.m.
There is a public comment period, but any requests to comment, or written comment, must be sent to Delaware.SBE@sbe.k12.de.us by 4 p.m. Thursday with the comment line "Public Comment on Regulation 1010". All comments will be shared online, but would not be considered as a petition.
WDEL spoke with Boettcher about some of her concerns.
What is this petition, and do you hope to accomplish with it?
It's a bunch of parents trying to get together and try to make a difference in trying to bring the sports back. Most of us agree that it looks like the numbers are looking really, really well, and travel sports and other leagues have played all summer long. No one could answer the question [Sanford coach Stan Waterman] asked the DIAA in the [board] meeting last week if they could come out with any information if COVID was spread from the summer leagues. Most of us in the parents group play in travel sports. My son played baseball in June and July in North Carolina, we've been in Pennsylvania, and we have not heard of any outbreaks or issues.
What do you want the DIAA to know about your concerns?
We want them to reconsider bringing the fall sports in the fall, even if it's a shortened season. Let's say they don't start until October, that gives them a little more time to reevaluate the numbers and situation. I want them to be aware that sometimes you have to look at the whole picture of the kid. The child's well-being mentally, and physically, is the most important thing. The kids who have been affected by them taking away these sports in some cases could be detrimental. They need to see if it's going to outweigh them pushing back the season if it's really warranted, and is it really going be overall the safest thing not to have the season, for the kids?
In your opinion, why did the DIAA suspend fall sports?
I think it was the easy way out, because it is a lot of pressure, I'm sure. I'm not the one that has to make that choice, and they did. I feel like it was the easy way out, they didn't want to pivot. I know from my job, I teach group fitness classes, back in March I had to pivot and go online and do live classes and be on people's TVs at home. It was a lot of work, and it still is a lot of work. I think that they were looking it like it was a lot of work, how are we going to do this, and sometimes it's just easier to say let's push it back and hope for the best. Here's the thing, you can push it back, but what if in wintertime, what if the flu season comes on and they decide to move the goalposts again and say you don't get it. Then you're having kids who didn't have a spring season, or a fall season. Being my children's last year, after losing their junior spring, you're talking about the same group of kids missing out on their fall sports, and possibly their whole season. For me, I just want them to make the choices that are based on what's best for the kids, and what the parents think are best for the kids, because they're our kids.
You mentioned your son getting to play in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, did you you have any concerns travelling to different states, and what was the atmosphere like at those events?
I personally did not feel we were at risk. I did take precautions, we cleaned and sanitized things. When we went to the tournaments, a few wouldn't allow spectators, so we stayed in our cars, stayed in the outfield, or we didn't go to the games. They spread out the kids in the dugouts, hand sanitizers were used, no one uses shared equipment, everyone had to supply their own drinks individually, they didn't slap after the games, those were the types of things they did to keep kids safe.
Have you thought about, or have you had your kids tested just to make sure nothing has happened as you've traveled around to these different places?
I have not. We haven't had any symptoms, and we haven't been in close contact with anyone who has had it for any length of time in the guidelines for getting it done.
Have you had a sense that anyone on the travel teams that you are with have been tested? Asymptomatic spread has been one argument that has been made by medical professionals, and is that a data point we are missing because they're not being tested, whether it would be positive or negative?
Maybe. One person's health is somebody's personal business. I'm not usually at liberty to walk around asking groups of people if they've been tested or not, so that's not really been in any of the conversations I've been in. If they came out and said every kid who wants to play a high school sport has to be tested, I'd be all for that. If that's a possibility, I'd be open to that, but no one's even gauged that question, they didn't offer that. The governor talked about the teachers being tested, so if there's enough tests to basically say you can come back like the college are doing, that might be a great idea to get the students back.
If your kids were not able to play a fall season, and perhaps the whole year, what would they lose?
Some people have said 'oh, they can just go play for their leagues and their travel teams,' but what I think people are missing out on is the sportsmanship of supporting your school. My kids go to Caravel, and they're proud to say they are Bucs. You're proud to support your school, and what they would lose is being with their friends, learning losing and winning, and there's so much they'd miss out on. So many kids can't afford travel, what about the kids who can't afford it? There are families who can't pay for it, is it really fair for them?