VHSL decides on sports schedules

Published 7:22 pm Tuesday, September 22, 2020

High school athletes will have an opportunity to play 60% of their regular season starting in December.

The 33 members of the Virginia High School League executive committee unanimously decided on Sept. 17 to adopt a “Championships + 1” plan for sports and activities sanctioned by the organization in the 2020-2021 school year. The first game for season one is set for Dec. 21, season two’s first match is March 1 and season three’s first contest day is April 26.

Under the plan, there will be three seasons. Basketball, gymnastics, indoor track, swimming and diving, and wrestling will compete in the first season from Dec. 7 through Feb. 20. Football, volleyball, golf, competition cheerleading, cross country and field hockey will play in the second season from  Feb. 4 through May 1. And baseball, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis, track, and field will run from April 12 through June 26.

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“We have received invaluable input from our school communities, parents, and students who say the physical and mental health benefits of getting our students back to a level of participation is extremely important,” VHSL Executive Director Dr. Billy Haun said in a statement. “The Championships + 1 schedule will provide sports in all three seasons.”

“The VHSL Executive Committee acknowledges that no plan is perfect,” Haun said. “We are in unprecedented times in which we have been forced to create a temporary new normal. We understand this plan, or any plan, will not meet the expectations for those wanting a normal fall, winter, and spring sports season. This plan, however, will allow student-athletes and academic activity participants the opportunity of having a season and playing for a state championship.”

Each region will advance one team to the state tournament in all sports. State championships will also “be one day events when possible” to reduce team and school expenses and the need for overnight accommodations. Any game not played due to COVID-19-related issues will be treated as “not played” versus a forfeit, the league said.

“We look forward to discussing the VHSL proposal with our high schools and determining a return to play timeline for athletics,” Lynn Briggs, a spokeswoman for Isle of Wight Public Schools, said in a statement.  The VHSL had considered other models for sports. In one option, all sports would have remained in their current seasons; in another, fall and spring season sports would have switched places.