WATERTOWN - Will we witness an aggressive driive to the basket, a neat pass along the ice to a breaking foward racing in alone on the goalie, a race to the touch pad at the end of a 200-yard freestyle swim relay anytime soon?
Will there be a winter high school sports season; and if there is, when can it logically start and be played to some kind of conclusion as the COVID-19 pandemic takes another whack at us?
The answers to those questions and perhaps a few more, were the issues on the table on November 17 when the Board of Control of Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC, if you will) discussed a proposal for conducting a winter season during a virtual meeting at it’s Cheshire headquarters.
What came out of the meeting was that the CIAC is planning a winter season, but it’s not going to begin for awhile.
Under the CIAC’s plan, the start of practices for the season, which are usually staggered from early-to-mid December, would be no earlier then Tuesday, January 19, 2021 and that date is subject to approval of government agencies.
It is also a revision of the original CIAC plan in which the traditional winter sports of boys and girls basketball, ice hockey and boys swimming and diving, which usually begin practices right after Thanksgiving, would begin workouts on Saturday, December 5, but other sports, such as cheerleading, dance and wrestling, which are considered higher-risk for spreading COVID-19, would get underway no earlier than January 4, 2021.
It surely won’t be the last, if the fall sports season is used as a guideline, as the state and the NVL scrambled to get seasons in each sports with the exception of football, which was limited to 7 vs. 7 scrimmages.
Of course, the state Department of Public Health will in on the matter, as they will be in on discussions with the CIAC, CSMS Sports Medicine Committee, and Governor Lamont’s office to evaluate the status of high risk sports and determine whether those sports may be played.
“Our Board of Control will continue to collaborate with the DPH, the Governor’s office, and the CSMS Sports Medicine Committee in the weeks leading up to the January 19 start of winter practices,” said CIAC executive Glenn Lungarini.
Using the recent fall season as a yardstick, everything is fluid and subject to change, which most assuredly it will and even then with severe restrictions in the face of COVID-19.
One of those restrictions applies to Watertown; the plan restricts towns from competition that are in the ‘red’ zone map of Covid-19 metrics.
Under the plan, the traditional winter sports of boys and girls basketball, ice hockey and boys swimming and diving, which usually begin practices right after Thanksgiving, would have started workouts on Saturday, December 5, but other sports, such as cheerleading, dance and wrestling, which are considered higher-risk for spreading COVID-19, would get underway no earlier than January 4, 2021.
Of course, basketball and hockey players would be required to wear close-fitting face masks while competing, but with mask breaks in both sports.
As for indoor track and field and gymnastics, not much is certain; as for track, the availability of training and competition facilities such as the Floyd Little Center in New Haven is limited.
Things are even tougher and perhaps a bit dangerous for gymnasts. “The viability of wearing a mask while performing aerial stunts and the limitations of equipment set-up and breakdown in the school setting are the primary reasons for postponement,” the orginal CIAC plan stated.
If there are basketball games played, there might be an opportunity for the cheer and dance teams to perform their routines and entertain in a “low-risk” format.
Low-risk prohibits stunting, lifts, and tumbling in cheer and lifts and stunting in dance while masks would be needed and formations would need to maintain six feet of distance between teammates.
No safety measure will be left to chance, according to the updated plan.
For instance, what if a mask comes loose or falls off a player during a game?
It’s going to covered, literally as well as figuratively.
Mask breaks would be given in basketball after the first stoppage of play, at or after the 4-minute mark of each period.
Also, game officials will have the discretion to call mask breaks when needed.
In hockey, the one-minute breaks would be given at the first stoppage of play at or after the 4-minute, 8-minute and 12-minute marks of each period.
Lungarini admits that while there are many situations which may arise durung the course of a game or season, the plan covers
“Today’s action supports our member schools while they continue to manage rising COVID numbers within their communities and experience widespread movements to distance learning,” said Lungarini in announcing the plan.
“We believe Interscholastic athletics are an education-based experience that maintains in-person learning and the health and safety of our school communities as our top priority,” addded Lungarini.