Waterford’s Justin Mittelstaedt, who will be a senior for the 2020-21 school year, looks for an opening in a crowd of Wilmot defenders during Southern Lakes Conference game in 2019. Officials throughout the state were uncertain early this week if fall high school sports would be played this year due to concerns about spreading coronavirus. (File photo by Rick Benevides)

WIAA meets Thursday to discuss changes as local officials wait

By Mike Ramczyk

Correspondent

The first domino fell Tuesday morning.

“After much discussion with area school districts and following recommendations by state and federal health officials, it has been decided there will be no fall sports for the 2020,” according to a status on the Union Grove Elementary School Facebook page. “These sports include softball and cross-country. Please know our students and staff safety is our priority as always and this decision was not made lightly.”

“It is our hope to offer some type of intramural program so student-athletes may still participate in these sports. Area school districts will convene again once school starts to determine what type or if there will be a winter sports season. We appreciate your understanding during this chaotic and unprecedented time.”

It’s only an elementary school, but the trend may be happening at local high schools, too.

While other western Racine County athletic directors couldn’t be reached for comment, Union Grove Athletic Director Dave Pettit said Tuesday everything is up in the air currently regarding fall sports.

“We have a ton of concerns right now,” Pettit said. “None of the other three questions can be answered until after the WIAA meeting on Thursday.”

The questions sent by a  reporter, which included inquiries about plans for fall sports, football games and fans at games, are on the everyone’s minds right now, as football is set to start in early August per usual, according to recent comments by Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Communications Director Todd Clark.

WIAA initially wanted a normal fall sports start

Clark and the WIAA had every intention to proceed with a normal season as recently as last week, but the fluid situation is becoming harder and harder to navigate.

On Tuesday, the Big Eight Conference, which includes Madison area schools, canceled all conference competitions for the fall.

This included all fall sports.

Madison-area schools, including Sun Prairie and Middleton, said they are beginning school virtually, but they would still be able to play sports.

However, the league voted 10-0 to cancel athletic competition.

On Thursday, a special virtual business meeting of the WIAA Board of Control was set discuss the fall sports season and provide consideration for a proposal that would push fall sports into the spring of 2021, and move spring sports to the summer on a one-year basis.

Under the plan, which was developed by schools the southwest part of Wisconsin, winter sports would be the first competition of the school year, either on normal schedule in November or delayed until January 2021.

Fall sports would begin in March and go until late May.

The WIAA Board of Control has the final authority on how to address fall sports, and had the option to approve, reject or modify the proposal on Thursday.

WIAA officials, who touted the physical and mental health benefits of interscholastic competition for students over the threats of the virus as recently as last week, are now faced with the prospect of another three months – at least – without high school sports.

To read the entire story, see the July 23 edition of the Burlington Standard Press, Waterford Post or Westine Report. Check back here for updates on this topic.