CIAC Allows Three More Sports for Winter Season; Spring Games Slated to Start April 10
The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) made some major announcements regarding the status high school sports in the upcoming weeks. The CIAC added a couple of sports to its winter lineup and also determined the opening date of games for the 2021 spring campaign.
On Feb. 18, the CIAC held a Board of Control meeting at which it voted to allow indoor track meets, virtual meets for competitive cheerleading, and virtual meets for competitive dance to begin on Monday, March 1. The CIAC also reaffirmed that wrestling will not be contested this winter and that wrestling teams will continue being limited to conditioning and non-contact skill building amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the CIAC announced its plan for the winter season in January, it stated that wrestling, competitive cheerleading, and competitive dance would not be held this year and that there would be no indoor track meets through the end of February, but that they could possibly begin in March.
Earlier this month, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) announced that it would no longer be classifying sports into three risk categories—higher, moderate, and lower—in terms of COVID-19 transmission. Wrestling, competitive cheer, and competitive dance had been classified as high risk by both the NFHS and the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH). The NFHS had previously considered individual running and throwing events in track as lower risk and the pole vault, high jump, and long jump as moderate risk—the same classifications maintained by the DPH.
Following the revised guidelines from the NFHS, the CIAC met with representatives from the state DPH and Governor Ned Lamont’s office on Feb. 11 to discuss how those revisions might affect high school athletics. After that meeting, the CIAC requested consideration from the DPH to revisit the status of wrestling, competitive cheer, and competitive dance, along with the jumping events in indoor track, and also boys’ lacrosse—a spring sport that had been considered high risk by both the NFHS and the DPH. In alignment with the DPH’s response and guidance, the CIAC Board of Control voted to allow competitive cheer, competitive dance, and indoor track to begin holding meets on March 1.
Mask wearing will be required in both competitive cheer and dance, with the exception of brief removal of the masks for athletes who are engaging in stunts, lifts, tumbling, and other acrobatics. The masks must be put back on immediately after those specific activities are completed.
For indoor track meets, competitors in running events will be required to wear masks. Athletes who are competing in jumping events will be allowed to remove their masks prior to their approach for the jump and will then have to put the mask back on when the jump is completed.
The 2021 winter season began on Feb. 10 including basketball, ice hockey, gymnastics, boys’ swimming and diving, fencing, and skiing. Teams are playing shortened regular seasons with a maximum of 12 games and there will be no state tournaments or state championship meets, although conferences are slated to host local league tournaments between Monday, March 15 and Sunday, March 28. Last year, the state tournaments for basketball and hockey were canceled as they were ongoing due to COVID-19.
This year, basketball and hockey players are required to wear masks during their games. Participants in the other sports don’t have to wear masks while competing, but must wear them at all other times at their respective events.
At its recent Board of Control meeting, the CIAC also reaffirmed its current position that spectators should not be allowed at high school games, but also stated that, due to the complexity of venues around the state, decisions regarding fan attendance will still be left up to each local district.
Meanwhile, Lamont announ ced on Feb. 18 that the number of spectators allowed at high school and youth sporting events will be increased with a cap of either 25 percent or 200 fans, depending on which is the lower number. Lamont also stated that out-of-state competitions can resume on March 1.
As the CIAC was making adjustments to its winter sports plan, it also announced that it is in the process of developing mitigating strategies for the 2021 spring season. Last year, the spring season was canceled outright by the CIAC. For this year, the CIAC recently announced that spring practices will now begin on Saturday, March 27, moving that date up two days from the originally scheduled date of Monday, March 29.
The spring campaign is scheduled to be held as a traditional season with the potential for teams to play their typical amount of 20 regular-season contests. The CIAC stated last week that the regular season will start on Saturday, April 10 and run through Thursday, May 27, after which there will be postseason state competitions between Tuesday, June 1 and Sunday, June 13.
The sports that are played during the spring season include baseball, softball, outdoor track, tennis, golf, lacrosse, crew, and sailing. Boys’ lacrosse, the only spring sport that had been previously classified as high risk, is slated to be played under the appropriate mitigating strategies.
Connecticut has seen its number of positive COVID-19 cases consistently drop on a week-to-week basis since the week of Jan. 11 to Jan. 15, in which 17,698 people in the state were diagnosed with the virus. From the week of Feb. 15 to Feb. 19, there were 5,764 people in the state diagnosed with COVID-19, marking the lowest number in any week since Oct. 26 to Oct. 30, 2020.
Overall, as of press time, there were 273,101 people in Connecticut who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, including 7,523 fatalities. Connecticut is 34th in the United States in the amount of total cases and 21st in total deaths.