AIA says high school winter sports will begin Jan. 18

Posted at 2:49 PM, Dec 18, 2020

Arizona High School winter sports finally have a start date.

The Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) decided Friday that high school winter sports, soccer, basketball and wrestling, will begin on January 18. The regular season will run through March 5.

“Our focus continues to be on keeping students in school and on the playing field safely. We believe this decision will help us preserve the winter sports season," said Joe Paddock, AIA Associate Executive Director stated in a press released.

The decision to start on January 18 was guided by the AIA's Sports Medicine Advisory Committee. The idea was to allow an expecting spike in COVID cases after winter break pass, so students are acclimated to school life and presumably healthy when the start of winter sports begins.

"It gives us a chance to come out of the winter break and if kids do, or if people do come down with Covid then they have their quarantine period over," said AIA Director David Hines.

As part of the plan, the AIA implemented these early guidelines:

  • The season of competition begins on Jan. 18, 2021. The only thing that could create a statewide delay or change to this date would be government prohibition or shutdown. March 5, will be the end of the regular season for winter sports.
  • Conferences will be given the opportunity to decide the total number of weeks of competition, up to the maximum number of weeks allowed by the Executive Board.
  • All modifications to winter sports established on December 2 remain in effect: schools are required to follow all modifications.
  • Spring season will start March 1, 2021. Conferences will have the opportunity to modify the length of the Spring season.

High school winter sports usually begin in early December. earlier this year, winter sports were delayed until early January. This move pushes the starting date back about two weeks.

With a start date on the calendar, Saguaro High School Boy's Soccer Head Coach Nagui Sabbagh said it's up to the student-athletes to make smart decisions so that when the first whistle blows, the team will actually be on the field.

"If you want a season you got to sacrifice," Sabbagh said with a message toward his players. "I can’t hold your guy’s hands when you guys leave practice. So you just got to be smart and make the right decisions so at the end of the day we can all have a season."