Education leaders express concern about winter sports, athletic officials update guidance

Concerns about upcoming sports season

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey says education leaders have concerns about the upcoming winter sports season and bringing crowds indoors.

Alabama High School Athletic Association officials say overall they’re pleased with the outcome of fall sports so far. Roughly 92 percent of scheduled games have been played and more they’ve seen more than 98 percent participation in fall sports.

Now it’s time to look ahead - cautiously.

“We’re pretty close to the end of volleyball and football season. We’re already beginning to look at the winter sports and what that will look like,” said Mackey. “But I can tell you that I and others have some concerns about winter sports.”

The biggest concern is the shift of athletes and fans indoors. Leaders have closely monitored the fall volleyball season to shape COVID-19 guidance for winter sports.

“Through volleyball, we’ve learned some things about crowd control inside gyms and how we’re going to have to manage basketball and wrestling,” said Mackey.

The Alabama High School Athletic Association recently approved new guidance for coaches for winter sports. The 10-page packet includes recommendations for bowling, wrestling, basketball, and indoor track.

For example, with wrestling, matches should be limited to four teams per event until further notice to allow for easier contact tracing.

Any time multiple basketball games are played on the same day, in the same gym, everything must be sanitized between match ups, so more time may need to be allotted between games.

For indoor track, athletes should consider warming up outside the arena if possible.

“We will continue to work with our schools as we get into this season and hope it goes as well as football season,” said Mackey.

For a look at the updated guidance, click here.

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