A waiting game: TUSD football might not return to the gridiron this fall

TUSD AIA games

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -The football season in Southern Arizona may not be held in the fall after all, at least for the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD).

The district has been working with the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) and recently received the greenlight to hold a football season outside of the established parameters.

Even though the season kicked off in Arizona two weeks ago, the only thing TUSD football athletes have been playing is the waiting game. Currently, their only opponent is the Coronavirus.

“Football is, of course, the fall campaign’s only contact sport,” said TUSD superintendent Dr. Gabriel Trujillo during Tuesday’s school board meeting. “It’s the contact sports that are not allowed to begin a season until the county reaches a point of minimum transmission status.”

With most of the Pima County school districts following the local health department’s recommendations, Trujillo expects football will sit on the sidelines a while longer.

“It’s going to be later rather than sooner,” he said.

Which is why an agreement with the AIA has become a beacon of hope.

“Pima County School District’s will be allowed to set up a football season outside of the established September-December timeline,” Trujillo said.

However, allowing fall sports to be held outside of the allocated season is something the AIA was originally apprehensive of.

“Because we can’t individualize a certain aspect of a championship season per county and have a true state championship with everyone finishing on time,” said Seth Polansky, the sports information coordinator for the AIA.

Still, the AIA board decided to be flexible so all Arizona athletes get a chance to play, regardless of when that might be.

“[But to make it to the state championships], it’s how many games they can get in,” said Polansky. “Are they going to qualify for the minimums?”

It seems the virus is infecting yet another sports season.

“We have only had 20 varsity football cancelations in the last two years combined. Now, we’ve had 290 this year,” said Polansky. “Twitter has also helped that out, too. There’s always people going, ‘Hey, ugh, Valley Christian up here. We had a game canceled from a Tucson team, who’s got an opening?’ Then, coaches will see that and get together.”

As TUSD waits on the metrics, the AIA is waiting on the district to send its plans.

“We will help them out, we will create an opportunity,” Polansky said.

The AIA has made it clear once TUSD starts its season, the district must play it out. If the season is suspended because of a COVID-19 outbreak, it will automatically come to an end.

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