The NJSIAA’s Sports Advisory Task Force – the statewide group of athletic administrators tasked with developing return-to-play protocols for New Jersey high school sports – today issued its final plan for the winter sports season.
Competition for all winter sports will begin after the New Year. Ice hockey may start practicing on December 14, 2020; basketball, fencing and bowling may start practicing on January 11, 2021; swimming and winter track & field may start practicing on February 1; and gymnastics, girls’ volleyball, and wrestling may start practicing on March 1.
Under Executive Order 196, indoor practices and competitions are limited to 10 persons, however, if the number of individuals who are necessary for the practice or competition, such as players, coaches, and referees, is greater than 10 persons, the practice or competition may proceed. If this exception applies, the number of individuals still may not exceed 25 percent of the capacity of the room in which it takes place, or 150 persons, whichever is less. Practically speaking, this means that spectators are prohibited.
A memo, shared with all NJSIAA member schools, provides greater detail on the current plan.
The Sports Advisory Task Force remains committed to providing as complete of a spring season as possible and will release final spring sports season plans on or before Friday, December 11, 2020. Of note, the spring season is likely to extend through June.
“We remain keenly focused on providing New Jersey’s student athletes with the opportunity to participate in sports, and given current health data and modeling, we believe pushing the schedules back ensures the best opportunity for our kids,” said Colleen Maguire, the NJSIAA’s COO. “The staggered winter schedule is based on feedback from health officials, anticipated capacity limitations as well as the availability of facilities which are used by many of our winter sports. The hockey schedule remains unchanged due to contractual obligations with rinks and the potential for significant financial repercussions associated with rescheduling ice time.”
While post-season play is under consideration, and will be determined at a later date, for wrestling, gymnastics and girls volleyball (the sports that start practicing in March), there will be no NJSIAA- sponsored post-season for any other winter sports. Post-season play may be hosted locally by participating leagues and conferences, at their own discretion.
“New Jersey should be proud of its student athletes, coaches, administrators, and all those who make high school sports possible,” Maguire added. “During our fall season, NJSIAA member schools successfully engaged approximately 80,000 student-athletes across 5 sports. We will continue working hard to make the winter and spring seasons a success as well. As was the case in the fall, the potential for play is ultimately based on everyone working together to keep our communities safe and healthy.”