Coach Johns talks about ripple effects of FHSAA decision

Published: Jul. 23, 2020 at 10:57 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG) -It's bad news for student athletes and coaches hoping to compete, as scheduled, in the fall.

In a rare second of two meetings in the same week, the FHSAA Board of Directors reversed it's decision Monday, and Thursday voted to push the start of all fall sports workouts, and thus eventually, games, to no earlier than August 24th.

That Zoom meeting beginning at four central Thursday. It came in the wake of Monday's meeting in which the members voted 10-5 to start fall sports workouts as scheduled, July 27th, this coming Monday.

That result didn’t sit well with many districts in South Florida and the Tampa area, and some schools, some districts even, threatened to pull out of the FHSAA and start their own leagues or conferences.

At first the discussion centered around the Sports Medicine Advisory Council which recommends going ahead with golf, swimming, and cross country, but suspending volleyball and football indefinitely. One guideline from the “SMAC” report would mandate that counties would need a five percent or lower positivity rate for two incubation periods totaling 28 days, which would more than likely kill the chances of volleyball and football in the fall.

Our area's representative on that 16 person board, Wewa football coach and A.D. Bobby Johns speaking to that when he got the opportunity.

"You cannot do this and still play football in the fall." coach Johns said. "All I'm saying is to make sure that we understand That you can't take one without the other. If we accept this, football has to be moved. OK? So then you have to start deciding what sports programs are you going to destroy! When you take and put football on top of basketball, on top of baseball, something is going to be destroyed. Especially in schools that don't have enough kids to go around. So I'm just pointing that out as we move forward we need to understand that you cannot make this decision without moving football season and volleyball season."

"To allow those of us who can play a season now, with local approval from our superintendents, to be able to play that season." said Johns. "We'll withdraw from the state series. We don't care about the state series. It's a chance for our kids to play because our window is now. My comment to piggyback off that is several times I've been admonished for not thinking about what is best for the entire state! And by not taking that into consideration this board is not taking into consideration what is best for the entire state. Maybe for the most number of places, and most number of students, and most number of schools, but not the entire state!."

Unfortunately, procedural rules would not allow Richard Finlayson to make a motion, that Johns seconded, for this to be voted on. The motion to push back to the 24th was then voted on, and it passed 11-4.

So what remains is teams can continue summer conditioning workouts, but not start actual pre-seasson practice any earlier than August 24th. With another board meeting to set a new schedule, which could result in pushing back even further.

On Friday, Johns spoke about his representation on the board.

“The one thing that I did tell some folks last night was that I am the only board member on the committee who had to make that call last night. That I had to call the kids and say we’re not starting. I’m the only football coach on there, there’s not a volleyball coach not a cross country coach. What I told them (the players} was this will pass! And we will be stronger because of this. we are going to stay focused on the things that are important, the things that we can control. But I also told them I hope they took this as an example of making a stand for what you believe in and trying to fight for it,” said Johns.

Johns went on to add that this week has been tiring for those making the decisions.

“Well yeah it’s certainly been a long week. People are very passionate about this topic as you could tell with all the people that were tuning in over the last two meetings. You know hundreds of phone calls and text messages and things from coaching colleagues and folks that wanted a voice. So yeah it’s been a trying time, at least physically and mentally anyway,” said Johns.

Johns also mentioned the chances of players leaving to play in Alabama from the area if they don’t get a season or it is pushed back too far.

“Well and you know that is something that is unique to what I would call the I-10 Corridor. Everything north of I-10 there. All the way from Jacksonville out to Pensacola. You could just as easily go across the state line from Baker to Alabama. You could go right across the state line from Tallahassee to Valdosta. Or Madison to Lowndes. Baker County to Folkston, in Charlton County. Play really good football with a lot of exposure,” said Johns.

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