The WIAA Executive Board approved on Tuesday night the remainder of its 2021 high school sports calendar, moving traditional spring sports up to the second season, followed by winter sports to end the school year.
Baseball, softball, golf, boys soccer, tennis and track and field seasons are set to begin March 15 and go until May 2. Basketball, bowling, cheerleading, dance/drill, gymnastics, wrestling and boys swim and dive are now scheduled to start April 26 and end June 13.
“Based on the risk levels assigned to traditional winter activities compared to traditional spring activities, the Executive Board made the decision that those spring activities will have the opportunity to play much earlier than winter activities,” said WIAA Executive Director Mick Hoffman said in a press release. “The Board will continue to monitor the status of activities over the coming months to ensure that those traditional spring sports receive a chance to participate.”
The move comes two weeks after the board moved traditional fall sports to a Feb. 1 start and designated it the first of three seven-week seasons in the wake of a new statewide reopening plan. Spring sports lost their 2020 seasons statewide due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The WIAA gave leagues across the state the choice to form locally-specific schedules. Many leagues any have already done so, causing some leagues to move schools around based on proximity. Some leagues, like the Greater Spokane League, held off on deciding on a structure for the second and third season until the WIAA decided how it would align the second and third seasons.
The longer into February regions go without reaching Phase 2, the higher likelihood the calendar will be condensed into two seasons with sports overlapping — a scenario that the WIAA and many leagues hope to avoid (though the Metro League has already announced a two-season schedule).
Most sports will be allowed to hold competitions in regions that reach Phase 2 of Governor Jay Inslee’s Healthy Washington reopening plan. Low-risk outdoor sports like cross country, golf and tennis can begin right away in Phase 1.
Regions must show a 10 percent decrease trend in COVID-19 case rates, a 10 percent decrease in COVID-19-related hospitalizations, a lower than 10 percent positivity rate and an ICU occupancy rate lower than 90 percent in order to move to Phase 2.
As of Jan. 15, no counties reached Phase 2. Metrics are reassessed by state health officials every Friday.
While high school sports have returned in some form in most states across the country, they have been sidelined in Washington since the outset of the pandemic last March.
Here is the risk level for each sport, as determined by the state department of health:
• Cheerleading with contact
• Dance with contact
• Cross Country
• Sideline/no-contact cheerleading and dance
• Swimming and Diving
• Track and Field