Traditional sports seasons are shifting this year, with high-contact sports like football moving to the spring in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association board voted July 21 to change the 2020-21 sports season to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
High school sports will now fall into four seasons, instead of the traditional three.
In the first season, with practices to start Sept. 7, students can participate in cross country, boy tennis and girls swim and dive, dependant on additional information from the Department of Health.
Anacortes High School Athletic Director Erik Titus said the School District is also looking at other options, like adding slowpitch softball (offered in the fall) and potentially moving golf to the fall months instead of the spring. Area directors are working with the courses to see what would be the best fit, he said.
The WIAA has set benchmarks for the safe start of sports, and if those benchmarks are not met as of the beginning of the fall season, all fall sports will move to the spring.
Traditional winter sports (basketball, boys and swim dive and wrestling) are scheduled to start in late December or early January.
The third sports season (new this year) is the high-risk sports moved from the fall schedule, like football, boys soccer and volleyball. They are scheduled to start in early spring.
Anacortes High School is prepared to offer a full varsity program for football this year, a change from last season when the school went to a junior varsity schedule and didn’t field a varsity team. It had already set a varsity schedule for the year before the COVID-19 pandemic changed things around, Titus said.
Traditional spring sports (girls tennis, track, fastpitch softball, golf, girls soccer) will close out the school year.
Titus said he knows how much work has gone into the decisions by the WIAA board and is appreciative that they are dedicated to find a way to make sure students can have access to athletics if at all possible.
There are still a lot of things up in the air, though, as the school year nears and some districts around the state go to an all-online model for the school year. It’s hard to wait for sports to start without being sure what will happen, Titus said.
“I appreciate everyone’s patience,” he said. “If anyone has specific questions, they can certainly reach out to me and I will do my best to answer those questions.”
Specific season dates haven’t been decided by the WIAA board.
“Since March, the philosophy of our Association has been to allow students every chance to participate,” WIAA Executive Director Mick Hoffman said in a statement on the WIAA website. “We’ve asked our Executive Board and planning committees to be as creative as possible in allowing for those opportunities. These are tough and unprecedented decisions to make, but it has been inspiring to see so many people around the state come together to work on behalf of students.”