Both conferences delay winter start dates until early February; both conferences eye a March 1 start date for spring sports

by Gary Adornato

Both the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland (IAAM) and the Maryland Interscholastic Association (MIAA) announced updated statements on Winter Sports this week, in the midst of the current surge in the COVID-19 pandemic, with both associations delaying those starts until early February.

The IAAM announced it will offer an “opportunity” for winter sports athletes, starting on Feb. 21, 2021, with the season running until March 13, 2021. The league also stated that it will meet the week of Jan. 11th to analyze current conditions and determine if they will offer a league season or an “open season” as was conducted in the fall. One casualty, however, will be the Indoor Track season, due to the fact that the primary site of those competitions is the Prince Georges Sports and Learning Complex, which is scheduled to remain closed.

The MIAA delayed its Winter Sports start date to Feb. 8, 2021. The league said it will also evaluate current conditions prior to that date, but did not specify when that evaluation would take place. The MIAA appears committed to offering a league schedule for Winter Sports, even if the Feb. 8th start date must delayed even further. Of course, everything is dependent or health conditions at the time of those decisions.

Both conferences announced they remain committed, at this time, to starting Spring Sports on March 1, 2021 and conduction a full spring season. The 2020 spring season was almost entirely lost once the pandemic got underway in March.

Here are the complete statements of each conference.

The IAAM Board of Governors met on Monday, December 14, 2020 to examine the viability of a winter season in 2021. In preparation for the meeting, the Board had asked for feedback from the full membership, outlining their thoughts on winter and spring options. There was overwhelming interest in offering “opportunity” for our winter-season athletes, beginning February 1, 2021. In addition, two other elements were apparent, (1) the IAAM membership did not want a deep overlap with winter and spring sports seasons and (2) the IAAM membership wants to do everything possible to ensure a full spring season beginning March 1, 2021.

The official Start Date for the winter season is February 1, 2021 and will run through March 13, 2021. Please note, due to the closure of Prince Georges Sports and Learning Complex, the IAAM will not be able to offer an Indoor Track and Field season but look forward to a robust spring season of Outdoor Track and Field.

The IAAM will lift the Out of Season practice policy and allow winter workouts beginning Monday, January 19, 2021. This opportunity is strictly for workouts as a school. This would not support early scrimmages or contests.

Our goal remains the same for our winter season, as it was for our fall season; to create and promote opportunities for our student-athletes. That said, we are aware of local jurisdiction constraints and restrictions on athletics and gatherings. Further, we will continue to monitor local jurisdiction plans to possibly extend their current restrictions.

The week of January 11, 2021 will be a pivotal one for the IAAM. During the week of January 11, 2021, the IAAM Board will revisit specifics around a February 1, 2021 Winter Start date, as well as securing logistics information regarding interest in league play versus independent scheduling, all the while, acknowledging the importance of health and safety concerns of our Member Schools.

Please know that the IAAM remains committed to supporting opportunities that strengthen the physical, emotional, and social well-being of our student-athletes.

The leadership of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association has been working diligently to provide an avenue for winter sports participation for the student athletes at our member schools. Our 29 League schools are located in seven different counties and Baltimore City. With our hopes riding on a January 11th start date, the current rise in COVID-19 metrics just is not conducive to that reality. The anticipated potential for a Christmas – New Year’s post-holiday surge in cases has created great concern surrounding the start of the winter sports season in January. The Board of Governors and Executive Committee did consult and discuss the topic and unanimously agreed that it was in the best interest of the MIAA to delay the start of the winter sports season until February 8th. Pandemic conditions will be re-assessed prior to that date to evaluate the level of confidence by the league and its member schools that winter “indoor” sports can be offered in a manner safe for student athlete participation. With a start date of February 8th the winter season will need to overlap with spring sports for several weeks. This has been discussed with and supported by the athletic administrators at our member schools.

The spring sport season is projected to begin on March 1st and will offer opportunity for a full schedule of league contests to be played, barring additional COVID-19 concerns at that time.

Hopes remain high that by February our member schools will be able to see classrooms once again place students in seats and athletic facilities once again permit competitions to take place.

Here’s hoping!!! Everyone, continue to be safe.