CIAC Releases Plan to Play Fall Sports
DiAngelo Jean-Pierre and the Valley Regional-Old Lyme football team will play six games during the 2020 fall season with their first matchup scheduled to take place during the last week of September. The CIAC recently released its plan to play fall sports this year, pushing the start date of the campaign back two weeks to Thursday, Sept. 24. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Audrey Kamen and the Guilford girls’ soccer squad will be able to participate in conditioning in groups of 15 people or less beginning this week. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
On July 31, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) released an 11-page report that details its plan to play high school sports during the 2020 fall season. In doing so, the CIAC has delayed the start of the season from its original date of Thursday, Sept. 10 to Thursday, Sept. 24.
Football teams may continue conditioning in groups of no more than 15 people through Monday, Aug. 17, at which point they can begin organized team activities under that same guideline. Other teams were allowed to start conditioning in groups of 15 or fewer on Aug. 3. All teams may begin non-contact skillwork under that guideline on Thursday, Aug. 27. All teams can participate in full practices starting on Friday, Sept. 11 and then play scrimmages beginning on Friday, Sept. 18, six days before the regular season is slated to get underway.
Each football team in the state will play a maximum of six games during the 2020 regular season, which is scheduled to run through October. The other sports will play a maximum of 12 regular-season games with no more than two games per week.
Following the regular season, the CIAC is planning on offering some form of a postseason tournament experience for every sport during the first two weeks of November. These tournaments will be contested in a non-elimination format in order to maximize the number of games that each team will be able to play. The sports that are played in the fall sports season are football, boys' soccer, girls' soccer, field hockey, girls' volleyball, girls' cross country, boys' cross country, and girls' swimming and diving.
The CIAC had already released tentative schedules for the 2020 fall season. Those schedules will now be revised to cut down on the amount of games, while featuring an emphasis on matchups between teams that are in close proximity to one another in an effort to minimize travel and the potential spread of COVID-19.
The CIAC's plan states that individual school districts will be responsible for determining whether to allow spectators to attend games, along with establishing any social distancing and capacity guidelines at games in accordance with Connecticut's Phase 2 reopening plan. Each school district will also conduct COVID-19 testing and contact tracing in conjunction with its respective Department of Health.
The CIAC emphasized that its plan is fluid and in a constant state of evaluation. The organization will continually monitor COVID health metrics in Connecticut and said that the appropriateness of holding interscholastic athletic contests can change at any time. Throughout the next few weeks, CIAC sport specific committees will meet to provide additional details on mitigating strategies in each sport. Whether or not sports are ultimately played this fall is contingent upon schools returning to in-person learning in September.
The CIAC's plan discusses a number of other subjects related to playing the 2020 season. In accordance to Centers for Disease Control guidance, the CIAC stated that face coverings should be worn by coaches, sports staff, officials, parents, and spectators as much as possible. The CIAC's plan also details the importance of hygiene practices such as handwashing, states that water bottles must not be shared, that locker rooms should be used as little as possible and be limited in capacity, and that schools must follow social distancing guidelines during transportation to and from games. To read the CIAC's full plan for fall sports, visit www.casciac.org/fallplan.
The last time the CIAC held a sporting event was when several State Tournament games for the 2019-'20 winter season were played on March 9. The next day, the CIAC canceled all remaining State Tournament games as COVID-19 was on the verge of being declared both a national emergency and a pandemic.
On March 18, the CIAC postponed the start of the high school spring season. Then on April 23, it announced that there would be no postseason competitions, but still left open the possibility for teams play some games in June. On May 5, the CIAC finalized its decision to cancel the 2020 spring season following Governor Ned Lamont's announcement that state schools would remain closed for the rest of the school year.
On May 11, American Legion baseball announced that it was canceling its 2020 summer season across the United States. Shortly thereafter, the Connecticut Elite Baseball Association was formed, providing a similar experience for baseball players in the state. The Dream League, a league for girls' lacrosse players, has also been playing a season this summer.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit peak levels nationwide and in several other states throughout the past few weeks, although the number of new cases and deaths in Connecticut has gone down and since leveled off during that time span.
The pandemic has resulted in the postponement, suspension, and cancellation of numerous sporting events around the world. The NCAA canceled its men's and women's basketball tournaments, along with all of its postseason tournaments and championships for the winter and spring seasons. The Ivy League recently announced that it will not play fall sports in 2020. The 2020 Summer Olympics were postponed from this year until next year. Wimbledon was canceled for the first time since 1945.
The MLB, MLS, NBA, and NHL recently resumed their 2020 seasons after having suspended them in March and are playing games without fans in the stands. In the MLB, COVID-19 outbreaks among the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals have resulted the postponement of multiple games during the first week of the scheduled 60-game season. MLB teams have been playing games at their home stadiums and also traveling to play road games at the opposition's ballparks. The MLS, NBA, NHL, and WNBA have been playing their games in four centralized locations.