By Conor McCue

DENVER (CBS4) – The fate of high school football in the fall now lies in the hands of the Colorado High School Activities Association, also known as CHSAA. With CHSAA’s final approval, districts and communities could choose to allow certain sports to participate in the fall or spring season, and the state’s largest district has already said it prefers waiting until the spring.

On Wednesday evening, Gov. Jared Polis announced the state had approved CHSAA’s variance request to allow several fall sports seasons, including football, field hockey, cheer, and dance. The variance request came weeks after the organization released a revised, four-season schedule that put football in the spring.

“The state did a great job of laying out, here’s the blueprint for all seasons to take place, so every athlete, every sports get an opportunity,” said Doug Clinkscales, Athletic Director at Manual High School.

(credit: CBS)

While teens around the state may soon play under Friday night lights, fields in Denver could remain empty.

This week, Doug Clinkscales and other Denver Public Schools athletic directors were among the many administrators around the state asked by CHSAA for input on the potential for fall sports.

According to Clinkscales, the Denver school leaders collectively decided their preference was to move forward with the revised plan of holding several fall sports seasons in the spring. In a letter released publicly, DPS athletics said the later season was “the best and safest opportunity for our students.”

“Our stance reflects our commitment to the health and safety of our students, staff and communities,” the letter stated. “Our stance is also a strong message that we value and support the diverse group of student athletes we serve.”

“We just wanted to be clear as a district, ‘Hey, here’s what we’re doing, here’s how we’re moving forward,’ and for the most part, everybody in the Manual community has bought in and voiced nothing but support,” Clinkscales said.

(credit: CBS)

Clinkscales and other DPS leaders have concerns regarding inequities that could arise with CHSAA possibly holding two seasons for football. In the letter, DPS athletics said, “while offering two distinct seasons of football seems logical and noble on the surface, it instead highlights a glaring inequity that does not value all of the more than 140,000 student athletes across the state of Colorado.”

“Hopefully, everybody is working to make sure the season A culminating event looks the same as season C’s culminating event,” Clinkscales said as an example.

In Denver, decisions could still change. Clinkscales said his team would be willing to play in the fall if it comes down to it. For now, he and others within DPS are hoping to stick to what was agreed upon in August and take advantage of the time they now have to plan and train.

“We’ll just continue to have one of the longest and greatest, hopefully, offseason programs that we’ve ever had,” he said.

Conor McCue

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