CIAC: Winter dates set; whether season comes off remains to be seen

CIAC: Winter dates set; whether season comes off remains to be seen

CHESHIRE — While the fall regular season continues to move forward amid the coronavirus pandemic, there is work currently being done in hopes that high school sports teams can compete this winter.

On Thursday, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference Board of Control met to approve scheduling guidelines for the upcoming season. The plan sets dates. It does not guarantee that the season will actually be played.

In the new winter plan, winter sports teams can start practicing on Nov. 21 and then hold up to two scrimmages before starting the regular season on Dec. 7.

Basketball and ice hockey teams can schedule up to 16 games in the regular season. Boys swim squads may have 14 contests, while gymnastics and indoor track and field will have a maximum number of 12.

Like in the fall season, teams can play up to two contests a week.

The CIAC has chosen a minimum number of competitions needed to qualify for a state postseason that would run from Feb. 8-21: basketball (8), ice hockey (8), wrestling (7), gymnastics (6), boys swimming (4), and indoor track and field (1).

Teams won’t be allowed to compete against out-of-state squads or non-CIAC schools. Basketball and indoor track and field squads will be required to schedule within their leagues and the CIAC recommends that other sports do the same when possible. If swimming and gymnastics squads hold non-league action, the contests must be run virtually.

The CIAC also asks that leagues set up divisions by geography, much like they did this fall.

While planning ahead for the winter season, the CIAC has stated on multiple occasions that the process to get there is fluid. Next week, the individual sports committees will discuss strategies to lower the risk of spreading coronavirus and then submit information to the CIAC Sports Medicine Committee.

The CIAC will also be meeting with the Connecticut Department of Public Health to talk about winter sports. On Sept. 25, DPH announced recommendations for all organized sports, including youth and adult clubs and private leagues.

For high school winter sports, DPH classified wrestling and competitive cheer/dance as high risk for transmitting respiratory particles.

Basketball, swimming, gymnastics and ice hockey were among the sports listed as moderate risk, while track and throwing events were put in the lower risk category.

Knowing that the winter schedule may need flexibility, the CIAC announced a second-semester alternative season back on Sept. 29. For sports unable to play 40 percent of their regular season contests due to COVID-19, teams can start conditioning on Feb. 22 and play from March 19 through April 17.

The alternative plan was created after the CIAC canceled 11-on-11 tackle football for the fall of 2020 on the recommendation of DPH and the National Federation of High Schools. Both organizations deem it a high-risk sport. In the alternative football plan, teams can compete in five games before schools transition to the spring season.

While not sponsoring tackle football this fall, CIAC is allowing full-team practices to run for 120 minutes a day through Nov. 21. Squads can use equipment, as long as they avoid person-to-person contact.

A number of teams are playing 7-on-7 football set up by their individual conferences. The two Meriden schools, Platt and Maloney, are playing tackle football as independent teams.

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