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Coaches and players in Athens and Limestone County have been working out this summer with fingers crossed that the fall season would begin on time.

With the rise in COVID-19 cases across the state and some school districts offering online-only courses for the first nine weeks, it was not a guarantee sports would begin on their scheduled date of Aug. 20.

However, the Alabama High School Athletic Association announced Thursday sports are a go for the fall and will start on time. Football games are scheduled to begin Thursday, Aug. 20, while other fall sports begin Saturday, Aug. 22.

Official practice begins Monday for football, volleyball, cross country and swimming and diving.

Like every state in the country, Alabama has been trying to determine the best way to have high school athletics in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thursday, the AHSAA released a list of “Best Practices” to help schools compete in as safe an environment as possible.

The practices are listed for each sport, with rules for how to keep players, fans, coaches and officials as safe as possible.

Visit ahsaa.com/2020-fall-sports-rules-modifications to see the new rules for each fall sport.

Alabama is one of the few states in the country keeping its normal schedule for fall sports. Georgia and Mississippi have pushed the start of their football seasons to Sept. 4. Tennessee is still trying to determine when to start, while many counties in Florida have said they will not begin their fall sports season on time.

Some states, such as California, are moving football to the spring, but AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese said that was not an option for the AHSAA due to health concerns over having two football seasons in a calendar year as well as many athletes playing multiple sports.

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