NFHS Director Opines on Start of HS Sports

September 10, 2020 / Athletic Administration
In another installment of the National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS) executive director’s ‘Voice’ column, Karissa Niehoff remarked on the start of an unusual fall sports season across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The strangest beginning to a high school sports season in recent memory continues across the country. In some states, sports and other activity programs have been underway for several weeks. In other states, discussions continue on a fall starting date for some higher-risk sports. And in seven states plus the District of Columbia, the starting date for all sports has been pushed farther into the school year,” Niehoff began.

nfhsShe gave an overview of how different state associations have implemented their return-to-play plans and other modifications that have been put in place.

“On the positive side, cheers and high-fives (among family members) were in order in Michigan, where football, soccer, and volleyball were reinstated for the 2020 fall season after initially being moved to spring. Details of the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s latest changes, along with return-to-play plans for all states, are available on the Sports Seasons Modifications Map on the NFHS website.

“The news was not as positive in Connecticut and Rhode Island, however. In Connecticut, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference canceled football for the fall season on the recommendation of the Connecticut Department of Public Health. With no plans for playing football in the spring, the CIAC is developing some lower-risk options for players this fall. Volleyball will be allowed in Connecticut this fall, although, in New Jersey, opposite plans have been developed – football will be played this fall while girls volleyball has been moved to the spring.

“In response to the governor’s orders, the Rhode Island Interscholastic League is moving football and girls volleyball to the spring season. In two other Northeast states – Maine and New York – discussions about playing higher-risk sports this fall continue,” she wrote.

Niehoff pointed out the value of athletic and arts programs, noting that more than 12 million high school students participate in extracurricular activities. Although they may be altered or have a different look, she stressed the importance of human interaction and communication.

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“Sports and other activity programs bring people together. Everyone on the team is accepted. Everyone on the team is integral to its success,” Niehoff said. “In high school sports, no team member is less significant than another. All members of the team work together. They shed tears together, they heal together, and they laugh and celebrate together.”

To read the full column from the NFHS executive director on fall sports returning to high schools across the country, click here