High school sports season
schedule held off by four weeks
High school athletics in Snohomish County will have to wait once again. The start of high school sports has been pushed to a further date for the second time, following the cancellation of season one.
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) announced Nov. 18 that the season two start date has been pushed back to Feb. 1. Originally scheduled to begin on Dec. 28, the decision to delay the start of school sports was made because of the recent resurgence of COVID-19 cases, putting the season at risk.
In addition, each WIAA season has been shortened to seven weeks, and the open coaching period was extended to Jan. 23.
Traditional winter sports are scheduled to commence during season two if requirements are met. The WIAA has separated the state into three regions; A, B and C. The WESCO, KingCo and Metro leagues are in Region A. In order for a sport’s season to take place, at least 50% of schools in a region, by classification, must be eligible to participate. If less than 50% of schools of a specific classification cannot compete in a sport, the WIAA executive board will make adjustments to allow the greatest amount of participation.
For example, if less than 50% of 4A schools in Region A can compete in high-risk sports, then adjustments will be made to basketball and wrestling seasons. The WIAA will monitor COVID-19 cases by county using data provided by the state Department of Health. Protocols to determine each sports risk and participation level remain the same.
Flexibility of season adjustments remains at the local level. If a region meets eligibility requirements for a sport but chooses not to participate, the sport can be moved to a different season. A final decision for a sport’s eligibility will be made three weeks prior to the start of the season. By WIAA definitions ,eligible means the COVID case metric in the county meets the requirements to begin league games per the most recent Department of Health guidelines.
Instead of statewide tournaments and playoffs to conclude sports seasons, this year “Regional Culminating Events” will take place during the final week of the scheduled season. In order for a culminating event to happen in a specific sport, the region must have a minimum of eight schools participating within that sport and classification by the end of the fourth week of the season. Regions may combine classifications within a sport to meet the eight-school minimum.
Due to the delay in season two, all WIAA seasons have been adjusted. With the exception of gymnastics beginning Jan. 25, season two will run from Feb. 1 to March 20. Season three, consisting of traditional fall sports is scheduled to start March 15, with the exception of football beginning March 8, and will end on May 1. Traditional spring sports will compete during season four scheduled to start April 26 and end on June 12.
WIAA executive director Mick Hoffman published a statement on Nov. 19 regarding his desire for student-athletes to return to sports. Hoffman explained why he thought athletics were so important to students during this uncertain time.
“Everyone has heard how competition can build character, teach discipline and life lessons, and connect students with peers and their communities,” Hoffman said. “These are more than just talking points or ‘coach-speak’ because now, in the absence of these extracurricular activities, it has never been more clear how much they are needed.”
He said there was a 37% increase from last year in student-athlete depression and anxiety based on surveys carried out by a University of Wisconsin study. He also cited a low case transmission rate within the states that have been competing in high school athletics and mentioned “the Seattle United Soccer Club had 1,930 boys and girls participate in its programs this summer for two months of training. In total, two of those players contracted the virus and both of those came from community transmission, outside of sport.”
Hoffman said the examples he mentioned are not meant to diminish the virus, but to show that if proper precautions are taken, sports can be carried out safely.
Superintendents throughout the state are not warm to the idea of sports starting without students in the classroom but Hoffman feels this is an issue regarding optics and politics, rather than logistics.
“Education-based sports and activities have always been a key component of our school system,” Hoffman said. “We cannot eliminate one portion of a student’s education because we had to modify another.”
More information, including Hoffman’s full statement, can be found at www.wiaa.com.
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