Arizona Reinstates High School Winter Sports SeasonPer the Albuquerque Journal: Arizona high school sports officials voted Tuesday to allow winter sports, reversing a decision made four days earlier to cancel the season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Arizona Interscholastic Association voted 5-4 to reinstate basketball, soccer, and wrestling for high school students. It comes as the state struggles with the worst COVID-19 diagnosis rate in the U.S.
The season was expected to start next week. All students, coaches, and officials will be required to wear a face covering during games and events.
Each school also must complete a coronavirus monitoring form the day of every game and provide a copy to the opposing school.
The American Interscholastic Association (AIA) voted late last week to cancel the winter sports season amid growing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. The vote was decided by a 5-4 decision, which took roughly three hours of discussion, according to a report from AZFamily.com.Upon the completion of the meeting last week, the AIA released a statement citing the nation’s highest rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations, the state’s sports medicine advisory committee (SMAC) recommended the AIA cancel the winter sports season.
“We do not see the situation improving very quickly. Unfortunately, it does not appear that there will be adequate time before the start of the spring season for a winter season to occur,” AIA executive board president Toni Corona said in the release.
The regular season was slated to begin on January 18 and run through March 1.
“Unfortunately, it is expected that the state will see a continued rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations for some time. As medical professionals, we cannot in good conscience recommend that students engage in a winter season under the current conditions,” said SMAC Committee Chair Dr. Wilson in the release.
“While we understand the Board’s position, we are saddened by this decision, especially considering that club sports are continuing. To the best of our knowledge, never in our 100-plus-year history has the AIA canceled an entire season. We want nothing more than for our students to be active in school and participating in interscholastic sports and activities. It is my sincerest hope that all Arizonans will follow the CDC and Arizona Health guidelines by wearing masks, washing hands frequently, and practicing social distance to decrease cases and hospitalizations. If for no other reason, I hope we can do it for the kids.” said AIA executive director David Hines in the release.
Once hearing the news, a growing number of residents banned together to petition for a re-vote. As of 5 AM on January 8, according to AZFamily.com, the group had 41,000 signatures. The groundswell worked, as the AIA board decided to hold a special meeting on Tuesday, January 12 to vote again on the issue.
To read the full story from AZFamily.com on the status of the winter sports season in Arizona, click here.