It could be an interesting year for high school sports in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) approved several details of a one-year alternative season in the spring for fall sports and reduced the number of weeks for sports during the 2020-’21 winter and spring seasons at its August meeting last week.

The board established the parameters and context of the alternate fall season with seven weeks of competition in the spring. Football programs unable to start or complete 50% of the fall season, including games and practices, are eligible for a prorated alternate season. Other fall sports unable to start or complete 50% of the fall season, including games and practices, are eligible for a complete alternate season. Fall sports programs exceeding 50% of their seasons will be considered a completed season.

For planning and scheduling purposes, schools will be required to initially declare if they plan to participate in the traditional fall season or the alternate fall season in the spring by Sept. 1. Athletic directors at member schools will receive an email with a link to the online form to declare their intentions.

The revised sports calendar replaces the existing 2020-’21 season calendars and identifies — in addition to an alternate fall season in the spring with seven weeks of competition — a period of no coaching contact prior to the start of the respective sport seasons; an acclimatization or practice period before the first allowed competition; and the designated number of weeks for the winter and spring seasons, including any culminating event. The board acknowledges all schedules are subject to change if conditions warrant, in accordance with local, state and national health guidelines.

The revised calendar emphasizes the board’s position to accommodate all the sports seasons in 2020-’21 with the knowledge that a number of member schools have already determined interscholastic activities are not able to be conducted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The board also addressed a number of other rules and regulations to be modified or suspended in 2020-’21 to provide flexibility to members and licensed officials during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, licensed officials will not drop in classification in 2021-’22 if they choose not to renew licensure or are unable to fill a varsity schedule in 2020-’21.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to raise havoc with the everyday lives of people across the state and beyond, let’s hope that some high school sports this fall, winter and next spring will bring some athletic competition back to schools in the North Woods.