SUPERIOR, Wis. -- The first domino of potentially many more fall sports cancellations in Wisconsin fell on Tuesday.
The Big 8 Conference, based in the Madison area voted to cancel all conference games in the 2020-21 fall sports season. Teams will still be able to schedule non-conference games, should health and safety protocols allow.
As the rest of the state waits for the WIAA to make an official decision, Superior athletic director Ella Olson says it's been a difficult stretch for Spartan student-athletes.
"The WIAA and the state put out a survey for the mental health of athletes, and it came back alarming, you know the feeling that these athletes are having," said Olson.
"We know that sports can drive people's lives, and they can drive a kid to say 'You know what, I've got to go to school today because I've got football practice. Or I can't just skip class, because then I can't golf in my meet tonight.' So we know that sports have a huge impact on kids' lives."
With the potential opening of football practice looming in the coming weeks, Superior student-athletes have been able to come to the school for restricted, socially distant workouts.
She says it's provided a bit of positive relief to the situation, but with so much unknown, there's an uneasy feeling that comes with it.
"Do I wish that we could have thousands of fans out at this complex in a few weeks? Absolutely. I wish that. But I also know that we need to do things safely," said Olson.
"As a district, a county, a state, we need to make sure that any players, whatever happens with them, they're safe and they're getting taken care of. And our coaches too, our staff and our people taking tickets, our line judges, our everything. We know that the population would love to watch football games too, but it's not as easy as that right now, which is the problem."
On Thursday morning, the WIAA Board of Control has scheduled a meeting to discuss the future of fall sports in Wisconsin.
The Superior football team is set to open their season one month from today on Friday, August 21 at Ellsworth.