The fall high school sports season will go on in the state of Wisconsin. During Friday mornings WIAA Board of Control meeting, they discussed data and research on the safety of youth playing sports during the pandemic with health officials and determined to proceed with the upcoming prep seasons. Dr. Tim McGuine (PhD, ATC, Madison) of the WIAA Sports Medical Advisory Committee gave a power point to the BOC citing reasons /studies to support why high school sports should continue in the state. Michael Thompson of the Department of Public Instruction also mentioned that the Department of Health Services is putting together some documents for guidance directed to schools that may impact local school districts and health departments in their planning for return to play. He said the three documents being put together by the Department of Health Services will be directives to school districts.
The BOC took no action on Friday to change the scheduled start dates for the fall season for districts choosing to stay in the traditional season. Girls tennis, girls golf, girls swimming and cross country can begin practices on Monday while football, boys and girls volleyball and boys soccer are scheduled to start on September 7th.
The WIAA adjusted the end of the winter and start of the spring sports seasons to accommodate districts who choose to move their fall sports to an alternate spring season because of COVID-19. The state tournaments for winter sports have all been moved up to late February or early March while the start dates for the spring sports pushed back to early April. The spring sports would conclude in mid to late June.
Beaver Dam Athletic Director Melissa Gehring released the following statement after the conclusion of Friday morning’s meeting.
“Today the WIAA clarified a possible “alternative fall” schedule that slightly changes the traditional yearlong calendar. This alternative fall schedule shortens the winter and spring seasons by two weeks to create an alternate fall season for schools who may not be able to participate this fall. Beaver Dam will start low-risk fall sports (girls’ swimming, cross country, girls’ tennis, girls’ golf) on Monday, August 17th as originally planned. Conversations will continue regarding the proposed fall start dates for football, boys’ soccer, and volleyball with a decision no later than September 1st.”
The WIAA also recommended and the Board of Control approved a handful of one-year adjustments to rules because of COVID-19. Many of the adjustments are to allow for student-athletes to participate in as many competitions as safely possible.
Those adjustments include….
-Relaxing a rule that would penalize schools who decide to abandon conference for other games within another conference to provide opportunities for kids without penalties.
-They will allow teams to schedule more games once they are eliminated from a post-season tournament if they didn’t play the maximum number of games allowed.
-They will allow COVID co-ops. If a school is in a co-op where other districts are not allowed to participate, they can partner with another school for this season only.
-With limited games in some areas, they will also allow “extra” quarters or inning to be played at events after they are over to encourage more participation of reserves.
-With school approval of their high school student athletes can take part in up to two non-school (AAU) events during their high school season.
-The WIAA will also do their best to schedule post season tournaments but may not be able to sponsor full state championships. They hope to determine 30 days before the end of the season if they can schedule a post season event. Those events may only be “Regional Championships” if health situations don’t allow full postseasons. They have also removed the minimum number of games mandate to qualify for the postseason. If they do have postseason championships, the WIAA would not conduct the normal “awards ceremonies.”
-The WIAA will also strongly discourage, but not prohibit, teams from traveling out of state for competitions.
-Up to five coaching contact days will be allowed during the school year outside of a sports season.
-The WIAA would also waive number of games officials need to work to keep or improve classification for the next season.
More modifications or changes could come as things change.
If you have a question about this story or have an idea for a future local sports story, please email Wade Bates at [email protected]