SDHSAA sets guidelines for spring activities, makes changes to basketball playoffs

Published: Feb. 1, 2021 at 5:15 PM MST
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The South Dakota High School Activities Association is making changes to basketball playoffs in the state, while also adopting COVID-19 measures for spring activities.

In a special meeting Monday morning, the Board of Directors adopted a change to boys and girls basketball playoffs, that if three or fewer teams remain active in a region, that region will combine with the closest geographical region and play for four spots in the SoDak 16. This prevents any team from reaching the SoDak 16 without playing a game in their region first. The region combinations, if necessary, will pair Regions 1 and 2, Regions 3 and 4, Regions 5 and 6, and Regions 7 and 8.

The Board of Directors also adopted recommendations from the SDHSAA COVID-19 Task Force for Spring activities. Most recommendations follow the same directives the Association has been following already, including keeping opposing teams and spectators separate whenever possible and requiring athletes have their own water bottles. The Task Force is also recommending that Track & Field team camp areas be isolated where permitted from one another and that only team members have access to those camps.

SDHSAA Executive Director Dr. Dan Swartos said that many of the Spring athletic events will benefit from being outdoors, as well as having active cases of COVID-19 continue to drop across the state.

“It’s going to look a lot more like normal just because of the nature of the events that we have. And because we’re outdoors and because of the vaccinations, and the way that the cases are going within our state,” Swartos said.

The recommendations are also similar in scope to what school districts have been practicing already. Watertown School District Activities Director Craig Boyens said the measures for Fall and Winter activities have been working so far and said the adopted measures will help continue those efforts by students and staff.

“We’re excited that we’ve made it this far. And so, if we can carry this momentum, and continue to see our cases drop, absolutely. It’s a win for everybody, especially the kids,” Boyens said.

However, Swartos said that a drop in active cases, while something to celebrate and be optimistic about, isn’t a sign that the SDHSAA, schools or spectators should start letting up on preventative measures, and said that they still need to finish the year without any major spikes in cases.

“We want our schools and our communities to not let their eye off of the ball, and that we close this chapter of COVID out strong. So, you know, we definitely want to encourage people to continue to be vigilant,” Swartos said.

Other recommendations from the COVID-19 Task Force include changes to All-State Band and All-State Jazz Band. However, both of those events are still set to happen on the scheduled dates. Swartos said however that the Task Force still needs to weigh its options for All-State Chorus and Orchestra, and whether or not it would be viable to hold with alternative options.

“Finding a way to hold that event, and to justify it and keep it safe for everyone involved, is going to be a challenge,” Swartos said.

Swartos said in Monday’s meeting that because of the large number of participants and schools involved, it would be difficult to hold without any major changes. And it’s a challenge that Boyens said schools are aware of, and understand that major changes will need to be made in order to have the event at all.

“I’d call it a no-win decision for anybody because if you go one way it’s a bad decision. If you go the opposite way it’s a bad decision.” Boyens said.

Swartos said that the Task Force will present the Board of Directors will a recommendation in their next meeting in early March.

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