Governor won’t override KHSAA, says parents, coaches must be leaders

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Gov. Beshear on Monday said the decision to allow fall sports to resume in the commonwealth comes with a heavy burden of responsibility from school and athletic officials entrusted with keeping student-athletes and others safe.

During his daily briefing Monday, Beshear said he won’t override the high school athletic association’s decision. While acknowledging he can’t make every tough decision and must put in place rules the public can tolerate, he said it’s time for school administrators, coaches and parents to demonstrate leadership.

And if coronavirus numbers are out of control in October, he didn’t rule out stepping in.

Last week, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) voted 16-2 to allow practices to begin Monday for the fall sports of cross county, field hockey, football, soccer and volleyball. Regular season games will begin Sept. 7, with football starting Sept. 11.

“Let me start by saying we’re not going to overturn that decision, and it’s not because I think it’s a good decision or a wise decision,” the governor said. “But if we’re going to defeat this virus, we need people other than me all over Kentucky taking responsibility to make good and wise decisions.”

Beshear highlighted recent reports about athletes facing cardiac problems after COVID-19 infections. Dr. Curt Daniels, a cardiologist who is the director of the adolescent and adult congenital heart disease program and a professor of clinical internal medicine in pediatrics at Ohio State University and Nationwide Children’s Hospital, reported a study that found 10-13% of athletes with coronavirus had developed mild cases of myocarditis, which is inflammation of heart muscle.

Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, reinforced the governor’s message about sports and provided an update Monday about COVID-19 infections in young people.

“We’ve hit a new plateau, but if we take off from this level, it gets out of control much more quickly,” said Dr. Stack. “I hope that in Kentucky we can be more successful with youth sports than other places, but the outlook is not good. There’s a lot we don’t know about this disease. We don’t know some of the more silent but really serious harms that this disease causes.”

Beshear said by starting now, high schools risk shortened seasons and widespread health risks.

“We can’t make every decision from the governor’s office…and I have to keep decisions that the public can tolerate,” he said.

“It’s time for responsible decision-making by coaches, schools, parents,” he continued, noting he wants to see what the KHSAA has in mind for testing and other precautions for monitoring the virus and protecting athletes.

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