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AIA reverses course, winter athletics reinstated

After initially voting to cancel winter sports on Jan. 8, the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) Executive Board announced Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021 that winter sports for the 2020-21 season has been reinstated.  

The season, which includes basketball, soccer, wrestling, and spiritline, will commence on Jan. 18, 2021 with the regular season ending no later than Mar. 5, 2021.

“This has been a very difficult decision for the Executive Board,” AIA Executive Director David Hines said in a media release. “They have been weighing the concerns of the medical community, including the AIA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, and the requests by our member schools. We all want winter sports to happen, but it must be done safely.” 

The reinstatement of the season will include modifications that were published in November as well as a handful of additional modifications, including: 

  • All students, coaches, and officials will be required to wear a cloth mask or gaiter for the entirety of a game/contest.
  • Each school will complete the AIA COVID-19 Athlete/Coach Monitoring Form the day

of all games/contests and provide a copy to the opposing school prior to the contest.

Following AIA’s initial cancelation of the season and previous announcement of no fans being permitted to attend events, they ultimately passed the decision to local governments and school districts. According to Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s Executive Order 2020-59, which limits events to groups of 50 people or fewer, and the continued increase in COVID-19 spread in Yuma County, Yuma Union High School District, the City of Yuma, and the City of San Luis have worked jointly to ensure the proper steps are taken for parents/guardians to attend competitions.  

Due to the timing of AIA’s decision, and to best accommodate a safe experience for student-athletes, coaches and families, YUHSD will allow two parents/guardians for each athlete to attend “home” matches and games, beginning Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, per the AIA’s winter sports modifications, updated Jan. 13.

The parents/guardians will be required to complete a COVID-19 visitor’s waiver electronically via BlueInk and will still need to pay an entrance fee. Additionally, to provide opportunities for fans who are unable to attend in person to follow athletics, YUHSD will make select games available via live streaming.

YUHSD schools initially began ramping up preparation for the 2020-21 season in early December. However, due to the continued increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations and percentage of positive tests throughout the state, the season start date has been pushed back on several occasions.

Eric Patten
epatten@yumaunion.org