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Article Published September 4, 2020

From 11 to 7: CIAC Still Exploring Options for Fall Football

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) released new considerations for the fall athletic season on Sept. 4. The guidelines came on the heels of the Board of Control’s Sept. 3 meeting that reviewed the Connecticut Department of Health’s (DPH) response to the CIAC’s Aug. 28 letter requesting the DPH’s support on modifications to football and volleyball seasons to mitigate the possible spread of coronavirus among competing athletes, coaching staff, and other constituents.

In the announcement, the CIAC has ruled out the possibility of a full-contact, 11-on-11 football season this fall as the activity is classified as high-risk by the National Federation of State High School Assosciations (NFHS), and the DPH does not recommend athletic activities deemed high-risk taking place this fall. The door remains open on the possibility of a modified, 7-on-7 form of football being a viable alternative. Currently, the CIAC plans to work together with local athletic directors, coaches, and medical experts to deliver student-football players with a more moderate-risk alternative to 11-on-11 full-contact football.

The NFHS had previously classified 7-on-7 football as an activity of moderate risk, which falls in line with other activities that the DPH has indicated it would support given Connecticut’s current COVID metrics. The modified 7-on-7 format is widely understood to bar full-contact aspects like blocking and tackling and opt for other options to rule a play down like those in one- or two-hand touch or flag football.

In addition, indoor volleyball matches can be played provided student-athletes wear masks during competition. The wearing of masks would lead to an appropriate mitigation of risk to classify volleyball as a moderate-risk activity.

With these change forthcoming, the CIAC believes that it has aligned its fall-sports offerings with the DPH’s recommendations. More information on what any potential football season will entail should be forthcoming.

—Chris Negrini