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Moscow school district cancels traditional fall sports

Moscow students will play in an intramural format against each other, but will not play schools from other districts.

MOSCOW, Idaho — The Moscow School District announced Thursday night that they will not play high school sports in a traditional format this fall. 

Their students will play intramurals against each other, but will not travel to other schools. The school district says they hope to establish a "bubble" within their community by playing against each other instead of others.

Moscow is the first Idaho high school in the state to opt out of playing traditional fall sports. As for what made the school district comfortable in being the first in the state to make this decision?

"We're not comfortable," said Moscow school district superintendent Greg Bailey to KREM. "It's a tough decision to be the first one out there to do that, but we just felt like overall, if we're going to side on anything it's going to be on the side of safety."

Bailey says his school district’s main concern was their students playing students from other schools and then bringing COVID-19 into their community. 

Another thing that played a contributing factor? The fact that both of the universities on the Palouse aren’t playing fall sports this fall.

"With both those universities looking at it and saying it's better to shut down those conferences, I mean, and we're a high school? We feel like we need to look at those scenarios and make a decision off that as well," said Bailey.

Bailey says Moscow's athletic director has received positive feedback from other Inland Empire League AD’s after Moscow’s decision. He also says that he has talked to a few superintendents around Idaho who are also wary about high school sports right now. As for the IHSAA?

"They support our decision. They understand that each community has to make their own decision. They understood what our reasonings were and they were very supportive," he said.

As for the argument that people who play high contact sports, such as football, are already used to putting themselves in high risk situations? Bailey believes this situation is much larger than that.

"Any sport you know that there's risk of an injury, but if we know that this is something that could be long term, we know that it could affect not only that athlete, but their families, or friends or teachers, then that's a different scenario," he said.

This decision applies for both middle school and high school sports in Moscow.

They will be refunding a percentage of the fees already paid by athletes if they chose not to participate in the new format. The press release however did not detail exactly how much the school district would be refunding.

As of Thursday night, the IHSAA still is planning on playing fall sports. Bailey says if seasons get moved to the spring, his school would happily participate as long as it's safe.

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