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Football. (Unsplash photo)

Gov. Jared Polis and the Colorado High School Activities Association on Wednesday signed off on allowing high school football and field hockey games to happen in the fall despite the coronavirus.

Schools have the option of resuming the sports in the coming weeks if they are ready, or waiting until the spring.

CHSAA’s board met Wednesday night to decide whether to move forward with the seasons after the Polis administration earlier in the day approved variances to allow the sports to resume. By a 12-3 vote, the board decided to allow schools to resume the sports under the variances.


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“We are in a pandemic,” Troy Baker, president of CHSAA’s board of directors and the athletic director at Buena Vista High School, said in a written statement. “It’s not normal times. We’re all trying to find a way to navigate through it, with the hope of trying to find some normalcy in our lives. There isn’t a guide of how to do this.”

Sideline spirit — also known as cheer — will also be allowed to resume in the fall.

Under variances approved by state, all participants who are not actively playing or performing must wear masks and be six feet apart. Players and performers may not go into spectator areas and are required to observe mask-wearing and social-distancing rules while traveling to games.

The variances approved by Polis’ team allow for 50 players per sideline to be on the field during a football game. In field hockey, the variance allows for 25 players per sideline, per game.

“We have worked closely with CHSAA to approve their request, issue guidelines and assist in creating a process that supports a return to football, field hockey and cheer,” Polis said in a written statement.

The governor and CHSAA have been facing pressure across the state to allow more high school sports to resume. Many districts have or are about to resume in-person classes.

Gov. Jared Polis and Rhonda Blanford-Green, commissioner of the Colorado High School Activities Association, pose with student-athletes at Wellshire Golf Course on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Last week, Polis said he thought there was an opening for high school football to resume in the fall. CHSAA initially balked at the idea.

Some high school sports have already resumed, like golf and cross country.

CHSAA has requested variances for gymnastics, boys soccer, spirit, girls volleyball and unified bowling, which are traditionally played during the fall season. The Polis administration is still considering how to move forward on those sports.

If coronavirus transmission in a county starts to rise too quickly, schools there would no longer be allowed to offer football, field hockey and cheer.

Jesse Paul is a Denver-based political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is the author of The Unaffiliated newsletter and also occasionally fills in on breaking news coverage....