The Oklahoma Secondary School Athletic Association’s board of directors voted through a 13-0 unanimous decision to effectively cancel all remaining 2019-2020 athletic competitions on Thursday just after 10 a.m.
The decision, which cancels both all remaining spring sports and the Class 6A through Class 2A state basketball tournaments, confirms a decision made by Oklahoma’s State Department of Education on Wednesday that elected to implement distance learning for the remainder of the school year. Wednesday’s decision also announced that all extra-curricular activities would be cancelled.
The decision cancels near-50 spring athletic schedules across Edmond’s six high schools. It also shutters four area basketball teams — the Memorial and Oklahoma Christian School boys and the Edmond North and Deer Creek girls — from their chances in their respective state basketball brackets.
The OSSAA’s Executive Director David Jackson said that the novel coronavirus’s recent exponential growth among the community, along with the Department of Education’s decision, and the advice his organization has received from state health officials has rendered the continuation of the athletic ventures near impossible.
“With the increase number of cases we’ve seen in Oklahoma with the coronavirus, and the information we’ve got from our health professionals, we don’t feel like it would be the responsible thing to do to think we can complete out state basketball tournaments, or even our spring activities,” he said in a Zoom teleconference meeting Thursday.
Jackson paused for a lengthy amount of time before announcing the initial decision. He mentioned that as a body, the OSSAA mostly handles issuing penalties, managing ejections and monitoring player eligibility. There is an obvious financial loss to not resuming play, but that paled in the mental aspect of his organization not being able to see the handful of remaining 2019-2020 state tournaments and their eventual state champions.
The board unanimously approved the decision, with support and understanding of the cancellations coming from the majority of the 13 voters Thursday.
A new tone Thursday came through, too. Jackson referred to a floating, May 8th date as “optimistic” multiple times, and Board President Cecilia Robinson-Woods was adamant in declaring the play cancelled after another board member offered that Oklahoma’s governing body of high school athletics look to create an olympic-style celebration this summer to honor the affected athletes.
“Anything short of cancelling the season is the wrong message to send,” she said.