Safety protocols slowing the start of winter sports across Arizona

Owen Taylor, Staff Writer

With winter sports starting up, athletes and coaches alike are having to adapt to yet another set of COVID-19 protocols. As the year has dragged on, the AIA has changed its procedures in regards to the virus repeatedly, with Cactus Shadows implementing measures of its own.

Currently, winter sports have limits to who is allowed at games and events, spectators and athletes alike.

In regards to football, the AIA has asked high schools in the state to “increase signage at the stadium about masking up and social distancing. This comes as a result of the spike in cases recently in Arizona, with the semifinals held on December 11 being a major factor in the ask.

A lot of team traditions and general good sportsmanship rules have been put to the wayside as well, with team chants, handshakes after the game, and any other close contact activities being strictly prohibited by the AIA.

This upset many athletes, but was a necessary precaution to take with having sports continue as normally as possible. 

Cactus Shadows has delayed sports seasons already this year, with other schools in the red having cancelled them entirely.

According to an email by Seth Polansky, sports information coordinator for the AIA, “the online tickets fans purchase for the games indicate ‘home’ and ‘away’ on them so they know which side of the field to go to and prevent overcrowding on one particular side.” Polansky also added that AIA passes are not to be accepted at the gate.

He continued “the AIA will have at least one administrator at every site to work through any issues that may arise.”

Winter sports in the state are delayed from competition until January 2021, with the last allowed day for competition set for February 19. No scrimmages, out-of-state competitions, invitational and regional tournaments will be permitted.

The delay between the start of winter sports is meant to give athletes and coaches time to familiarize themselves with the new rules.

With 2021 fast approaching, more safety protocols are sure to come out before the start of winter sports in early January to ensure a safe and healthy season through February, and be able to continue into the spring sports.