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Oregon high school football players worried about delay in season

The Oregon School Activities Association board met this week to figure out how kids could play fall sports while being safe and limiting the spread of COVID-19.

PORTLAND, Ore — High school football is on hold indefinitely in Oregon and your kids can't have games or competitions for other fall sports until the end of September.

High school football and fall go hand-in-hand. But maybe not this year since Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) executive board decided to hold off on the season.

Oregon's current guidelines don't allow the sport because it's considered full contact. Cheerleading and dance are also a no-go.

"It's kind of trying to balance urgency with patience," OSAA Executive Director Peter Weber said. "We know people want to know right now what it's going to look like. We would like to know right now what it's going to look like. And the reality is we don't. A lot of this information is constantly changing."

The board met this week to figure out how kids could play fall sports while being safe and limiting the spread of COVID-19.

Oregon is looking to its neighboring states as examples for potential models or ideas; Washington announced this week it was pushing high school football to the spring while California pushed all fall sports back until December.

RELATED: Washington high schools introduce four-season sports schedule amid pandemic

"If things can't happen in the fall we'll look to move them and see if they can fit later in the year because we do understand how important it is," Weber said, "Our goal would be to find a place for football later in the year and work toward that with our board."

Bradley Jarimillo hopes that's the case, but wants a concrete answer.

"These kids are very emotionally strained right now," Jaramillo said.

A rising senior on Lake Oswego's football team, his son Bailey worries what this means for college scholarships.

"This year was going to be a break-out year for me. It's the most important year to show colleges what I'm able to do and that I'm able to play at the next level," Bailey Jaramillo told KGW. "If I'm not able to have a season that could really hurt me."

Unsure of when he'll get to play football with his teammates under the Friday night lights again hurts, too.

"It's just something that is so different and so special," Bailey added. "There's nothing to replace it. If there was no football that's something all high school football players would miss the most, is Friday nights."

The OSAA board meets again the week of August 3 to figure out more details. 

Bradley feels the organization kicked the can down the road a bit with this news of an indefinite football season timeline. 

The family is considering moving to Idaho or Utah where Bailey could play this fall.

"If he waits in Oregon and here we are at the end of September and we're not any better and OSAA says, 'gosh, we have to push it again or go ahead and cancel' then now, what, we're stuck," Bradley said.

Kids can do other fall sports but OSAA's executive board decided the first whistle won't be blown until the end of September. That means schedules will be condensed.

RELATED: High school football in Oregon delayed indefinitely, games for other fall sports pushed back a month

"[The board] felt like it would afford a little bit more time to get some updated information. We're expecting some new sports guidance from the Governor's office here shortly," Weber said. 

OSAA says pushing fall competitions out a month gives schools more time to focus on reopening plans, which are still unclear for most districts. 

"The major piece of that by pushing the date was we want schools to get started. We’re an education-based organization and getting schools up and running - especially with everything that will be new this year - it is a priority," said Weber. "So extending that by a couple weeks provides schools the opportunity to focus on what they should be focusing on, which is getting kids back into school."

Weber says they want to provide as many opportunities to as many Oregon students as possible. If that means some regions of the state are able to move ahead with football - or other fall sports should the September start date change - then they want those areas to safely allow it.

"It benefits the kids, gets them physically active, it's important for their emotional and mental well-being, with the hope that other areas of the state that aren't quite there will get there soon and have those same opportunities," Weber added.

Cross country, volleyball and soccer can still hold practices as scheduled. Non-contact summer workouts are allowed, including for football.

The push for the return of high school sports, and reopening of schools, comes as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Oregon. Last week, Oregon reported 2,409 new cases, a 26% increase from the previous week.

One of Kory Carman's sons plays middle school football in the Beaverton School District, which this week suspended all sports practices indefinitely amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in Washington County.

Carman sent a letter to the school district superintendent to ask that they reconsider the decision to postpone fall and winter sports practices, and, "inevitably, the actual fall and winter sports seasons themselves". The word "indefinitely" concerns him.

"I'm all for if they want to push back the season, let's get more data in. I’m all for that. But I don’t want it to go away. That would be tragic," Carman said.

He says his family has been paying close attention to any news coming from OSAA as well as data from the Oregon Health Authority.

"Why not leave it up to the parents themselves and create a waiver? It's as simple as that. If we, as parents and a community, got together and decided I want my child to play, why rob kids of their childhood?" Carman said. "Both of my sons are passionate about sports, they're what they live for - especially football - and to take that away from them on top of this pandemic and on top of them already being isolated it's just going to add to their depression."

RELATED: Beaverton School District presses pause on all sports due to COVID-19