Wednesday, 12 August 2020 17:24

BREAKING: NCHSAA reveals new 2020-2021 schedule; football moved to February

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CHAPEL HILL — A never-before-seen athletic schedule was released by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association on Wednesday.

A week after Gov. Roy Cooper announced his extension of Phase Two restrictions until at least Sept. 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NCHSAA revealed its tentative plan for the 2020-2021 athletic school year.

In a video press conference, commissioner Que Tucker informed the NCHSAA’s member schools and the public that a series of changes would be made to try and have as many interscholastic sports seasons as possible.

Fall sports were all but eliminated, as none of the 16 NCHSAA sanctioned sports programs will begin before the start of November. Volleyball and co-ed cross country are the first sports cleared, and will begin their first practice on Nov. 4 and open play on Nov. 16.

High school football has been moved from the fall to a first practice date of Feb. 8, 2021. Teams can play their first game on Feb. 26 and are allowed to play just seven games, and just one per week until the end of the season on April 9.

Sports like volleyball, boys’ and girls’ soccer, softball and baseball can play up to 14-game seasons and can play two games or matches per week.

No official schedules for any Richmond Senior High School programs have been released at this point.

“Please keep in mind that these proposed dates are dependent on COVID-19 conditions improving across North Carolina,” Tucker said. “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 a school or school system operates.

 “This calendar represents the hard work of the 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. 

“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.

Below is a complete listing of each sport, its season start and end date, as well as how many games or matches can be played:

“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,” Tucker said. “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.”

Richmond County Schools cleared its regular fall sports athletes and coaches to begin workouts last Tuesday, and several including football and volleyball have gotten started. Several others were expected to begin on Aug. 24 following a one-week dead period.

The Raider football team tweeted out to its players on Wednesday that workouts would “continue this week as scheduled” and that the next steps will be decided during the dead period.

Tucker said the main goal is to “ensure the health and safety of all student-athletes, coaches and administrators during this unprecedented time.”

Noting there is still a lot of details to be figured out, some of that includes playoff formats, COVID-19 related rules modifications, securing potential playoff facilities and providing the safest possible regular season opportunities for student-athletes and coaches.

Also on the video conference was Dr. Josh Bloom, who is on the NCHSAA’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee. He spoke of the physical and mental impacts sports have on high school athletes.

“We feel it is critically important to provide opportunities for North Carolina student-athletes to participate, and compete, in education-based athletics,” the team doctor of the Carolina Hurricanes said. “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,” Bloom continued. 

“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.”

 

ROSports will provide a follow-up reaction piece from some of Richmond’s coaches. This is a developing story.


Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

Submit local sports scores to: kpillar@richmondobserver.com

Twitter: ROSports_