Skip to main content

State Of Texas Announces Decision On High School Football

Behind the band at a Texas High School Football game.

377592 05: Football players from Odessa High School in Odessa, Texas play September 1, 2000 during their season opener against Dallas Skyline High School. In Odessa/Midland, the heart of Texas, high school football is king and presidential candidate George W. Bush calls the area his childhood home. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Newsmakers)

As COVID-19 cases surge in Texas, there has been plenty of speculation about the local high school football season. It looks like there will be one, but today the University Interscholastic League has announced a change to the Texas high school football schedule for Class 6A and 5A schools, the two biggest classifications in the state.

As of now, Class 4A and below will start on time. This is also the case for the fall volleyball season, per The Dallas Morning News. The paper calls this football decision "unprecedented" for the state.

Football practice for Class 6A and 5A schools will begin on September 7, instead of the usual August 3. Week 1 of the season is set to run from Sept. 24-26, pushed back from Aug. 27-29. This change pushes the playoffs up to Dec. 3, with the state championship games at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, to be played at a date in January, as yet to be determined.

The Texas high school football divisions that have not been changed are still following the original schedule. That means playoffs start on Nov. 12, and state championships the week of Dec. 16-19.

As outlined by Dave Campbell's Texas Football, there are still significant hurdles to clear for many communities to have football this fall. Some cities may not allow in-person learning until later in September, which could throw a wrench into even a delayed football schedule.

Another wild card in this scenario: the UIL must navigate local entities that are putting tighter restrictions on things. For example: Hidalgo County (down in the Rio Grande Valley) and Houston ISD have mandated in person learning can’t begin until much later than the Labor Day start the UIL has implemented. In these two areas, extra-curricular activities (sports included) can’t start until in-person learning begins. Will these schools see an even shorter season (or possibly no season), or will the school districts seek to relax those rules around practicing during the virtual learning sessions?

Looking at the athletics calendar as a whole, this move by the UIL to push back the start of the season may be the last available move to ensure a football season gets played in this school year. There may not be another chance to delay the season further; but due to the size of our state and the varying conditions in individual locales, if the season does move forward with its newly scheduled September 7 start, there’s a chance that some school districts won't be able to field football teams this year if the local health situation does not show improvement.

A major change to the football calendar in the state of Texas is the clearest sign that a situation is dire. Georgia has announced a two-week delay. California is pushing the season all the way to 2021. Meanwhile Florida, which is the current COVID-19 epicenter in the country, appears set to move forward with practice starting in a week.