Pandemic shapes new athletic regulations


Photo by Audrey Villanueva (Fall 2019)

Football is one sport that will require new safety regulations.

As uncertainties about the future of high school sports arise, the Hawaii High School Athletic Association (HHSAA), Oahu Interscholastic Association (OIA), and athletic directors from Hawaii high schools have been discussing new regulations to protect athletes, coaches, and the community from the spread of COVID-19.

As of now, they’re looking at what other states and leagues are doing for effective practice strategies while prioritizing the safety of athletes and coaches.

Organizations like the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) have suggested strategies. Some NFHS suggestions include wearing face masks while not participating in athletic activity, replacing whistles with artificial noisemakers, and decreasing athletes’ exposure time in buses and vans. They also suggest social distancing and face masks rules be implemented during workouts, practices, and games. They go on to say that associations should consider pre-workout screening, limiting the amount of athletes in groups, thorough facility cleaning, and not sharing athletic equipment.

During this uncertain time, each sport is currently coming up with solutions to address athlete safety.
Waipahu High School Athletic Director Stacie Nii says, “Safety and working with parents with the best interest of our athletes in mind will always be a priority.”

For the time being, student-athletes are advised to “walk, run, [and] exercise [to] get the heart pumping again,” as Nii suggests.

Participating in athletics this year will still require physicals, and parents would need to sign consent forms.

Being able to be a student athlete is an important opportunity for many students, but if they do not want to participate this year, it is understandable.

Some student-athletes have weighed the risks already. Jermaine Alexis Benaza, a junior at Waipahu High School, says, “It’s hard to guarantee that everyone will be safe, but I think that with new rules and constant monitoring, everyone should be safe enough.”

Nii advocates being flexible to any new changes that arise: “While high school athletics is exciting and promotes leadership, pride, teaches teamwork and being humble, we need to put student safety first. The OIA athletic directors have been working hard to make some tough decisions.”