empty seats

The winter sports season for high schools in Maricopa County is on hold due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

AIA said in the fall if metrics are met for a sport to begin it wouldn’t have to pause if numbers rise. In this case, football can continue but soccer and other winter sports can’t begin.

In a chart sent out Nov. 5 by the Arizona Interscholastic Association, seven of the 15 total counties in Arizona were cleared to begin winter sports on Nov. 9 based on metrics set forth by the AIA’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee in the fall—which includes cases per 100,000 people, the percentage of positivity and percentage of reported COVID-19-like illness. 

The number of cases per 100,000 was initially set at 10 by SMAC in August. However, it was revised to 75, which allowed football, a heavy contact sport, to begin.

The AIA will use the same metrics going forward for winter sports. However, rising cases across the state have resulted in several counties, including Maricopa County, being above the threshold for the winter season to begin on time. 

Recently, Maricopa County had 115 cases per 100,000 people. The positivity percentage, which SMAC aims to be 5% or below, was 6.4%. COVID-19-like illness in Maricopa County is 3.3%.

Soccer and basketball will be cleared for practices and competition once community spread is deemed to be at the “moderate” level. To get there, Maricopa County would need to see its number of cases per 100,000 people fall below 100. Wrestling will be able to begin practice when counties are in the “moderate” spread phase. Competitions, however, cannot begin until “minimal” spread is achieved.

As was the case in the fall, sports cleared to begin will not have to pause if numbers rise in their respective counties or communities.

The AIA’s guidance regarding COVID-19 cases within specific athletic programs remains intact.