Governor Andy Beshear said he was "surprised" when the Kentucky High School Athletic Association announced last week it was moving forward with a plan for the start of fall sports, including football.
That statement led many to believe the governor might overrule the judgement of that organization and force a delay because of COVID-19 concerns.
Surprisingly, that did not happen.
"We are not going to overturn that decision," Beshear said during his Monday afternoon press conference in Frankfort. "And it's not because I think it is good decision or a wise decision. If we are going to defeat this virus, we need people other than me, all over Kentucky taking responsibility to make good and wise decisions."
The governor made the announcement after a group of parents, students and athletes had spent most of the day protesting around the capitol.
Many held signs with hashtags that has become a rallying cry: #LetThemPlay #LetUsPlay
Beshear's tacit approval of the plan clears the way for high school athletes in five sports — field hockey, football, soccer, cross country and volleyball — to begin practicing immediately. Competition will begin on Sept. 7, with the first football games set for Sept. 11.
"I have concerns that starting with the some of the highest contact sports, that we risk a shortened season," Beshear said. "We risk plans to get our kids back in school and we risk every other sport that is to follow."
The timeline for the return of fall sports activity certainly runs ahead of the scheduled return to in-person classes.
The governor recommended that schools hold only online learning until Sept. 28. That's three weeks after the first proposed athletic events — 17 days after the first football game.
"I'm not going to let our kids go undefended," Beshear said.
The governor's action (or inaction) on the matter still leaves plenty of questions. Less than two weeks before the start of competition, neither the KHSAA or the state government, has put forth any guidelines on testing, or the amount fans that could be allowed into games.
Those decisions, apparently, will be left up to local officials.
"It is going to be incumbent on superintendents, on coaches and on different groups to make the wisest decisions that they can," Beshear said.