High school sports still a go this spring, local athletic directors say amid coronavirus pandemic
Updated as of Thursday, March 12, 2020 11:46 PM
PRESCOTT — With the NBA and NHL suspending their seasons, MLB delaying its Opening Day by 2 weeks and the NCAA completely cancelling their men’s and women’s basketball tournaments due to the coronavirus pandemic, the sports world is in pause mode.
For local high schools, however, the spring season is still a go, multiple athletic directors told the Courier on Thursday.
Prescott Athletic Director Missy Townsend said at this time, the Badgers have no plans to cancel games.
“We’re staying in line with what Yavapai County is saying and our district,” Townsend said, pointing out that so far, there are no confirmed coronavirus cases in the county and the Prescott Unified School District has taken steps during this week (spring break) to thoroughly clean their schools.
“If there were reported cases in Yavapai County, or the area where we felt like it was a risk, we may reconsider, but the district is taking steps to sanitize the schools, stressing washing your hands, don’t touch your face. That’s best practice from the city, and the county,” Townsend said, adding there’s definitely a “precedence being set.”
“But at the same time, there’s a difference between a large gathering at an NBA game and a high school game,” Townsend said.
The AIA issued a statement Thursday after reaching out to all of its member schools in regard to current coronavirus discussions.
“All regular season games and tournaments are under the governance of the member schools and districts. Therefore, the AIA will respect any athletic competition decisions made by those entities in regards to the coronavirus,” the statement read. “If events are cancelled or changed specifically due to coronavirus, the AIA will waive the fees associated with this. Athletic directors at the member schools will follow regular procedures of cancelling or changing events should this occur.”
The AIA governing board plans to discuss the coronavirus issue during its next scheduled meeting Monday, March 16, in Phoenix. Executive Director David Hines will review information gathered from the Gov. Doug Ducey’s office and the Maricopa County Health Department.
“We hope to share more with our member schools and the statewide media after this meeting as we progress through the spring season,” the statement said.
Clairinda Weatherwax, athletic director at Bradshaw Mountain, echoed her counterpart’s statement in Prescott by saying as of now, the Bears have no plans to cancel any spring games.
“We’ll probably meet on Monday, we’ll discuss then what criteria we should consider moving forward,” Weatherwax said. “In my opinion, I hope we don’t [cancel games].”
Despite her opinion, Weatherwax said that if it were to get to that point when the school had to cancel games, she understands.
“I know it’s small when compared to a virus that’s killing people, but when you talk about senior athletes, canceling their seasons, that will hurt them, too,” Weatherwax said. “But safety in our community is important, and that’s what we would have to [adhere to]. It’s a no-win situation, it’s a tough all-around situation.”
Chino Valley Athletic Director Marty Campitelli said the last time the school’s leadership team met was a week ago and the game plan is to wait and see not only what happens in Yavapai County in terms of potential cases of coronavirus, but what other schools plan to do.
“We’re not planning on canceling any games [at this time],” Campitelli said Thursday. “I don’t think we’re going to make any decisions until we see what other schools are doing. I haven’t gotten any inclination that they’re going to cancel.”
Campitelli, like Townsend and Weatherwax, said the crowd situation isn’t as big a deal in high school.
“It’s not like we’re going to have crowds of more than 100. We’ll play it by ear, but I don’t think we’re going to get trigger happy in making any decision just yet,” Campitelli said.
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