The outbreak of COVID-19 has disrupted sporting events over the world, but the Arizona Interscholastic Association provided a hint of normalcy Monday, March 16. The AIA Board announced that it still hopes to resume spring sports at some point soon, including holding the championships.
Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman announced March 15 the closure of all Arizona schools through March 27, then extended that by another two weeks. Official competition is suspended, but the AIA has left it to the discretion of the schools and districts if teams wish to practice at a later date. The first step is getting student-athletes back in the classroom.
David Hines, the AIA’s executive director, said he is monitoring all of the changes, announcements and recommendations around the clock.
“We are going to look at that more hourly than daily,” Hines said. “Things are changing so fast. We’re going to pay attention to what the medical professionals, the state health department and the governor’s office (say).
“We need to let the professionals give us information and follow the decree of the governor,” Hines said. “We will let the experts tell us, ‘Hey we made progress and you can go back or not. We are going to have to continue this on.’ “It’s just such an unknown. The board really wanted to give the kids an option if we were able to go back to school.”
The AIA also said it would support a school’s district decision to extend the two-week stoppage if an individual district felt that extension was warranted.
In Arizona, several schools played baseball games March 13. There was an invitational tournament at Warren Ballpark in Bisbee on Saturday, March 14, in which Tombstone High School played a doubleheader against Benson and San Manuel high schools.
Since then, all contests have been canceled.
“We could extend the season but we would not make that determination without a lot of communication between our schools and membership,” Hines said. “Any contest completed before today would be included in our power rankings.”
Looking ahead to fall sports, football would normally hold spring practices at this time of year, but those practices fall under the same guidelines.
“Our protocol is going to pretty much be the same,” Hines said. “If we can get back to school then we will continue with doing what we are doing. If they get to the point where they say there is no school then all activities will conclude, including spring practice.”
The AIA planned to meet with the conference chairs this week to discuss potential protocols and a course of action when they are able to return.
“We have to have a plan in place if we are going to move forward,” Hines said. “We are educational athletics and there are times where things go our way and we are really glad for that, and sometimes there’s things that don’t go our way. We have to be able to learn from those times and make the best out of it that we can.
“We are going to do whatever we can to help those kids.”