The Badger Conference joined the growing list of conferences that have canceled fall sports competitions and championships.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly posed challenges for planning events of all types throughout our nation, state and local communities,” a statement from the Badger Conference read. “The goal of the Badger Conference, first and foremost, continues to be the health and safety of our school district communities.
“Since all member schools are not able to participate fully in conference contests during the current fall season dates as scheduled, Badger Conference competitions will not be held, and conference champions will not be named.”
The Badger Conference is made up of 16 schools, including DeForest, spread across seven different counties.
“It was a necessary decision even with the WIAA delaying the start of the fall season because there was already going to be a strain on schedules,” new DeForest Athletic Director Rick Henert said. “There are already questions about the possibility of a postseason, so it was a necessary decision to free Badger Conference schools to make up their own schedule to fit their own guidelines. We are still hopeful in DeForest that our fall sports will have a season, of course depending on health guidelines.”
Badger Conference officials met this past Monday to further the discussion on how to move forward with fall athletics.
“The meeting will give me a chance to see how the other schools in the conference are moving forward, especially those in Dane County,” Henert said. “I then plan to work with (DASD Superintendent) Mr. Runez and hopefully have a plan to present to the board by the end of the week. There is a lot we have to go through. We have to look at things like transportation restraints. The other big factor to look at is sending students to play games in a different areas.”
Henert is hopeful there will be some form of Norski sports this fall, but is not sure what that will look like.
“We are going to push for the fullest opportunity for DeForest fall sports,” Henert said. “We are going to do whatever we can to have as much fall sports as possible.”
Henert is not only looking at how sports will be run, but also other school activities and groups.
“Everyone is feeling the strain from this not just the sports people and my goals is to do something within the guidelines to give these kids opportunites,” Henert said. “We want to keep those groups going as much as possible. Adaptatations were made for prom and graduations and now we have Homecoming coming up. We are looking to make it a more community-wide Homecoming celebration and will attempt to tie in area buisnesses and others in the community more than we normally do.”
Even though official conference events and competitions will not be held this fall, schools are allowed to schedule their own games in each sport.
The WIAA Board of Control had announced a week earlier that it will hold a fall sports season, but that the start to the season will be delayed.
The Board of Control approved a plan for the 2020-21 school year to start seasons for girls golf, girls tennis, girls swimming and diving and boys and girls cross country on Aug. 17 and football, boys soccer and girls and boys volleyball on Sept. 7.
The WIAA motion, which passed 8-3, would provide schools and conferences that cannot play
According to the WIAA, earliest dates for first competitions now will be Aug. 20 for girls golf; Aug. 21 for girls tennis; Aug. 25 for boys and girls cross country and for girls swimming and diving; Sept. 15 for boys soccer and girls and boys volleyball; and Sept. 23 for football.
Here’s the statement from the Badger Conference:
“We have always viewed sports as an important component to the educational process. Participation in sports provides opportunities for developing and cultivating a variety of skills, such as communication, teamwork, discipline, leadership skills and respect for others.
“The Badger Conference supports the fact that education-based athletics is a privilege, not a right, which requires an added level of responsibility for those who administer them and serve as a partner in the education of student-athletes.
“While we look to guidance from a variety of sources, the ultimate source for school districts and athletics comes from local public health departments. Interestingly, the 16 schools of the Badger Conference must work with their local health department, (the conference spans 7 different counties), each with their own guidelines. This means that plans will vary in different parts of the conference and state, depending on how the virus is spreading in the local area and the guidance from county health departments.
“Since all member schools are not able to participate fully in conference contests during the current fall season dates as scheduled, Badger Conference competitions will not be held, and conference champions will not be named.
“The WIAA has said that schools which are unable to start fall sports in 2020, may have an opportunity in the spring to conduct their fall seasons. All schools will be supported in their local decisions and may have the option to schedule non-conference competitions in fall sports, so long as they follow the guidance of the WIAA and local public health officials.
“We understand the need to be flexible, adaptable, and use creative thinking as we move forward and appreciate the understanding of our school communities as we continue to work together to navigate the COVID-19 situation. Therefore, we are committed to offering opportunities to our students, assuming it is safe and allowable as determined by public health. We hope everyone remains safe and healthy. We will be back stronger than ever, when the time is right.”