High school sports delayed until November, football moves to Feburary

High school sports in North Carolina will be on hold until at least the beginning of November due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and will include a seven game football season that would not start until February.

A revised schedule for the 2020-21 school year was released Wednesday by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.

[image courtesy NCHSAA]

“Please keep in mind that these proposed dates are dependent on COVID-19 conditions improving across North Carolina,” said NCHSAA commissioner Que Tucker.

“However, last night the Board of Directors approved a framework we believe maximizes the opportunities for students in our membership to participate in athletics at some point during this school year, regardless of what plan is a school and/or school system operates,” Tucker said.

Missing from the calendar is start dates for playoffs in each sport. Tucker said during a news conference following the calendar release that a postseason format and dates have yet to be determined.

The NCHSAA Board approved an amended calendar for the 2020-2021 school year in a special meeting on Tuesday.

According to the association, the calendar was developed by NCHSAA Staff, Board of Directors and various committees such as the City/County Athletic Directors, Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and the Sports Ad Hoc Committee.

More from the NCHSAA’s press release:

There is still much work to be done on the details of implementing athletic programs and contests during this pandemic, but we thank these committees and individuals for their hard work to bring us to this point.

We recognize that this is a lot of information to digest and drastically different from the way the sport calendar has been aligned for years in North Carolina.

However, as we mentioned many weeks ago, “We will play again.” In that mantra we believe, and it is in that spirit that we present this calendar.

It is the belief of the Board of Directors and our staff that this calendar provides us the greatest chance of providing interscholastic athletic opportunities to the students of the NCHSAA for the 2020-2021 academic year. We believe that this is the best path forward to a safe return to the field.

Our decision-making process has been careful and calculated, as we work to ensure the health and safety of all student-athletes, coaches and administrators during this unprecedented time.

There is still much work to be done in regard to playoff formats, COVID-19 related rules modifications for numerous sports, securing potential playoff facilities and providing the safest possible regular season opportunities for student athletes.

We are committed to that work and will continue to lead and govern interscholastic athletic programs across this state that support and enrich the educational experience provided by our member schools in such a manner to maintain the standards of excellence that the NCHSAA has become known for.

Dr. Josh Bloom statement on behalf of the NCHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee:

“We feel it is critically important to provide opportunities for North Carolina student athletes to participate, and compete, in education-based athletics. While there are risks with resuming NCHSAA sanctioned athletics, it has also become very clear that there are significant negative consequences with not providing this option to student athletes. Accordingly, this is an exercise in balance – and we are committed to an appropriate balance of both safety AND participation.

“Our student athletes rely on the leadership and guidance of their coaches and mentors, the structure and discipline inherent in sports, and the camaraderie, joy, and excitement inherent in training and competing with their friends and teammates.

“For many young people, the void left without sports is filled with anxiety, depression, and despair. While the consequences of not participating may be more difficult to quantify than the risks of COVID 19 infection, we recognize these consequences of NOT participating are real and they are grave.

“With this in mind, we feel it is crucial to provide some good news and a plan for NCHSAA member schools to resume athletics. Accordingly, and with guidance from the CDC, the NCDHHS, and from our SMAC, we look forward to providing a path to participation in the 2020-2021 academic year.”

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