EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The University Interscholastic League (UIL) is delaying the start of the Texas high school fall sports season in Class 5A and 6A. The UIL making the announcement on Tuesday, however, the 1A-4A fall sports schedule remains unchanged.
Volleyball and football practices are now scheduled to begin Sept. 7. Competition will begin on Sept. 14 for volleyball and Sept. 24 for football. The UIL’s goal is not to cancel any games, but rather, push the schedule back and play a full 10-game regular season in football. However, in the event games must be canceled, the UIL is putting an added emphasis on playing all district games in order for playoffs to begin on time.
“Our goal in releasing this plan is to provide a path forward for Texas students and schools,” said UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt. “While understanding situations change and there will likely be interruptions that will require flexibility and patience, we are hopeful this plan allows students to participate in the education-based activities they love in a way that prioritizes safety and mitigates risk of COVID-19 spread.”
In addition to delaying the start of high school fall sports, the UIL also announced attendance will be capped at 50% capacity.
The move comes two weeks after the City of El Paso’s updated public health order, prohibiting high school athletics from taking place until after Sept. 7 when in-person learning begins at schools. Other cities such as Houston, Austin, Laredo, and Fort Bend have followed suit.
The UIL’s decision to delay fall sports in just 5A and 6A doesn’t come without push back. It has bought big schools more time, but is a tough blow for small schools in the greater El Paso area.
Riverside High School, who is in its first year of competition in District 1-4A, will seemingly be forced to forfeit football games because the City of El Paso’s public health order restricts them from getting on the field before Sept. 7. It is unclear at this point how Anthony, Fabens, San Elizario, and Tornillo Independent School Districts will go about this ruling. The schools who make up these districts are all located outside the City of El Paso and the public health order that goes along with it.
This is in no way a final determination for the UIL. COVID-19 cases in Texas continue to rise as do hospitalizations. For now, the decision buys the UIL a little more time in the hope to play this fall, rather than push the high school football season to 2021 like we’ve seen in New Mexico and California.