Planning for winter sports season begins

First, the good news – it appears that there will be some semblance of a winter high school sports season after all. Now, for the bad news – the winter season may not begin on time, and will likely not include wrestling or indoor track. Late last week, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association responded to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ updated Workplace Safety and Reopening Standards for Businesses and Other Entities Providing Youth and Adult Amateur Sports Activities – Phase III, Step 2 guidelines.
These guidelines, created in collaboration with neighboring states, such as Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Jersey, encompasses youth and adult amateur sports activities as well as high school sports.
The MIAA recently announced plans for its Covid-19 Task Force to review the latest info and create modifications for each sport in order to adhere to the state guidelines.
Winter sports that are expected to be played with modifications include basketball, hockey, skiing and quite possibly swimming. According to high school sports officials, it is unlikely that indoor track will take place due to restrictions in place at area colleges. Wrestling, much like football this past fall, also, will not happen due to current social distancing guidelines. It is not known at this time if wrestling will be moved to a later season.
While the winter season typically takes place after Thanksgiving, there are ongoing talks among Pioneer Valley Interscholastic Athletic Conference officials of a delayed start.
“With the release of the new state guidelines, this gives us a starting point,” Westfield and Westfield Technical Academy high schools athletic coordinator Ryan Dunphy said. “It is encouraging that many sports have the possibility of participating this winter.”
While Dunphy expressed optimism in regards to the winter season, much work still remains in the coming days and weeks ahead.
Much like the fall season, winter sports committees will need to present their proposed sport specific guidelines and modifications to the Sports Medicine Committee, which in turn presents viable winter sports and their modifications to the MIAA Covid-19 Task Force, who then recommends which sports to be included in the winter season to the MIAA Board of Directors. The board will then vote on the recommendations and notify MIAA member schools of the approved interscholastic sports for the winter season.

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