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Greater Spokane League decides to not play alternate sports seasons in fall, moves to spring

The WIAA announced Tuesday that schools could compete in cross country and slowpitch softball in the fall or spring. Championships will be in the spring.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Greater Spokane League will not have sports this fall.

GSL/District 8 Director Herb Rochtford told KREM 2 on Wednesday they will not compete in alternate seasons in the fall for cross country and slowpitch softball due to coronavirus. Those were the remaining two scheduled sports in the fall for the league.

The WIAA announced on Tuesday that cross country and slowpitch softball were alternate seasons. Schools could choose to play them in the fall, but championships would be moved to the spring.

"Not easy at all," Rochtfod said of the district's decision. "There was so much hope that we could craft something and put something together to re-engage kids."

Unfortunately that hope just couldn't overcome stark reality on Wednesday. 

One of the main reasons why they decided fall sports couldn't happen in the fall? The likelihood of digital learning being imminent in Spokane made playing sports seem unfeasible.

"We just didn't feel that it was appropriate and the right decision under those circumstances to say we're going to go ahead and try and put together a fall sports season," said Rochtford.

Social distancing requirements also made sports seem impossible in our area.

"With the governor's new orders, even if we were in phase three, you can't have more than 10 people in a socially distanced area at a time. How would you do that with cross country? We have 1500 kids. How would you do that in slowpitch softball? You have kids running into the play, sliding into home, and all of those kinds of things. We're seeing what's happening with baseball," said Rochtford.

The decision is still pending approval from the WIAA and the District 8 Board, but that just seems a formality at this point.

All fall sports now will move to the spring with practices beginning at the end of February. Competition for the winter season will begin in January of 2021. 

The next potential issue for the GSL? What happens if we're still not ready for sports then.

"We want so much to be able to offer a wide range of activities and athletics, but at some point it gets into a compression where you just can't do it all. We're not there yet. Is it a possibility?" pondered Rochtford. "Yes."

Rochtford also said that if students decide to move to Idaho to play sports, and then move back to Washington after the pandemic is over, there could be serious eligibility consequences. The GSL is figuring out what those are right now.

For the time being though, the league will wait to see what the next few months hold. 

Rochtford has a message for our area, as he hopes there aren't more hard decisions to come in the future.

"It's a community responsibility. If we're going to reduce this virus, we have to commit as an entire community to engage in social practices, mask wearing, and hand washing. If we can't do it for ourselves, we should do it for our kids."