NJ high school sports: Indoor fall season delayed, winter season gets OK
The NJSIAA has given the go-ahead to high schools to move forward with indoor fall and winter sports, although some districts have canceled their fall season.
The governing body that regulates high school athletics in the state last month announced a later and shorter season for outdoor fall sports such as football.
On Thursday, the NJSIAA said it would move the indoor fall sports of gymnastics and girls volleyball to a special season that will begin with practices on Feb. 16 and competition on March 3.
Winter sports teams may begin practicing on Dec. 3. Winter sport competition will begin on Dec. 21.
Football, cross country, field hockey, girls tennis and soccer can begin practice on Sept. 14. Cross country, field hockey and soccer will begin competition on Oct. 1, and opening day for the football season will be Friday, Oct. 2.
Gov. Phil Murphy has been supportive of fall sports for outdoor New Jersey public schools.
"I am encouraged that most of our major fall sports are played outdoors, as we know that outdoor activities are increasingly safer than indoor ones," Murphy said Monday. "And with the expanses of fields we can also ensure proper social distancing among parents and spectators and also among student athletes on the sidelines."
Long Branch public schools Athletic Director Jay Corley is on board with the protocols put in place by the NJSIAA in terms of delaying the start of practices.
"I'm all for the safety protocols that are being put in place as far as the schedule goes. I don't disagree with anything that's being done. It's better to be proactive than reactive," Corley told New Jersey 101.5.
He admitted that some student athletes, especially gymnastics and indoor volleyball which are delayed, will be "bummed out" but understand the circumstances.
Murphy said that districts that start the school year with students attending class virtually can still participate in sports.
Several school districts including Carteret, Leonia, Trenton, West Windsor-Plainsboro have said their students will not participate in fall sports.
New Jersey colleges have canceled their fall season after the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and the New Jersey Athletic Conference called off fall play. Both will consider playing in the spring.
“Our kids need structured activity, and we believe that education-based high school sports is the best way to provide it. Giving teenagers extra motivation to stay COVID-free promotes healthy outcomes for everyone," NJSIAA COO Colleen Maguire said in a statement.