DC-area high school associations delay start of fall sports season

By José Umaña/The Sports Pulse Contributor

Three high school athletics associations in the D.C.-metropolitan region announced their decisions to delay the start of the fall sports season as schools prepare to administer classes during the coronavirus pandemic.

DCSAA plans to move football, fall sports to 2021

On late Thursday, the District of Columbia State Athletic Association (DCSAA) said it would start its athletic season with winter sports in December, moving fall sports to 2021. Cross-country, football, soccer and volleyball will instead begin to play in February 2021 and end their season on April 16, according to a news release.

“Given the current environment, it just is not feasible to begin practice Aug. 1 and competition later that month,” DCSAA Executive Director Clark Ray said. “The safety of student-athletes and coaches remains our top priority.”

Ray said all of 49 public, charter and independent (private and parochial) member high schools were consulted before the decision was announced.

Going forward, the DCSAA will follow a “Condensed Interscholastic Plan” with the winter sports starting their playing schedules first. Team practices begin on Dec. 14 with games reduced to a two-month competition between Jan. 4 to Feb. 28. Meanwhile, spring athletics starts from April 19 until June 13.

DCSAA will need the final approval from Mayor Muriel Bowser as well as the D.C. Department of Health to go forward with the new athletic schedule. Ray called the reduced plan “the best solution” based on the current data and science that assures students will have the opportunity to play during the 2020-21 school year.

“These are unprecedented times, and first and foremost, the DCSAA remains committed to the welfare of our student-athletes,” Chairperson Rosalyn Overstreet-Gonzalez said. “We are hopeful this model will keep all of our incredible student-athletes engaged and focused and also allow them to take the court or the field this school year and showcase their talents.”

Individual conferences that host private and independent schools within DCSAA can still have their member institutions participate in athletics in a different schedule.

The most recognized private school league in the D.C.-area, the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC), has yet to announce its decision to hold a fall season.

MIAA, IAAM delay start until late September

In a joint statement, the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) and the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland (IAAM) announced the delayed start to their 2020 fall season, as practices will start on Sept. 1 and games will take place after Sept. 21.

The two governing bodies of private school sports, representing boys (MIAA) and girls (IAAM) of over 30 institutions, were set to start training camps in mid-August.

The two-week pushback will also include the waiver of blackout periods and out of season practice policies until further notice.

While the start dates are in September, the board of governors of both leagues will meet in August to determine if the delay needs to be extended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Once an official start date is confirmed, a newly revised schedule for fall athletics will be released, the statement said.

“Participation in healthy athletic practices provides our student-athletes opportunities to compete, build character, acquire, and improve skills, demonstrate leadership, and have fun,” the statement said. “Both leagues hope to honor this commitment and, at the same time, keep athletes and their coaches as healthy as possible.”

Public schools in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties have announced their intentions to start their school years virtually but not if fall athletics will remain as scheduled.

In early June, the Maryland State Board of Education passed a resolution that would allow area public school systems the flexibility to schedule their interscholastic athletics based on “local conditions” created by COVID-19.

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