WIAA Executive Director Mick Hoffman made an impassioned plea Thursday for the return of high school sports, even as the organization postpones and shortens its athletic seasons.
Hoffman, in an essay posted to the WIAA’s website, cited figures from a University of Wisconsin study suggesting that high school athletes are less likely to contract COVID-19 than the general population, along with other favorable stats from a selection of states. However, he used figures from the summer, not the fall, where the pandemic started surging again.
“We must allow students to participate under the supervision of their school leaders and coaches and the WIAA is prepared to assist in navigating that process,” Hoffman wrote. “There is no safer place for a student than our schools, before and during this pandemic.
Hoffman criticized school district superintendents for conflating the issues of in-person learning and athletics and argued that sports should go on irrespective of what capacity schools are functioning at.
“We’ve heard the hesitancy among superintendents: “How can we offer athletics when we haven’t returned to in-person learning?” This is not a logistical question,” Hoffman wrote. “It is a question regarding optics and politics. I understand the hesitancy based on the stance of their communities. However, we must focus on the values and interconnectivity of extracurricular activities.”
Hoffman went on to acknowledge the surging pandemic but added that he doesn’t believe there is time to wait for the pandemic to go away before allowing youth sports to resume.
“They’re running out of time to make memories,” Hoffman wrote in closing.
The entire letter from Hoffman can be read online at wiaa.com/News.aspx?ID=1745&Mon=11&Yr=2020.