A survey of Delaware school leaders conducted by the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Administration showed a preference to condense Delaware's high school sports calendar and begin it in December.
The survey, which will be revealed at Thursday morning's DIAA Board of Directors Meeting during the topic of potentially moving sports seasons around due to COVID-19, gave three options: Leaving sports in their current seasons, switching the fall and spring seasons, or delaying and condensing the seasons to run from December to June.
Thirteen of the 21 respondents (61%) made their first choice to start sports in December. Seven (33%), thought it best to leave the calendar alone, while just one picked switching fall and spring.
Twelve went with the switch of fall of spring as their second choice, with nine picking leaving sports in the current season as their third and least favorite option.
87% (20 of 23) of the leaders said at the very least, they would be in favor of delaying the fall sports calendar, because Governor Carney has announced he will not make his reopening announcement until early August. High School training camps are slated to open on August 17, with the first games set for the weekend of September 4-5.
Leaders also overwhelmingly supported (19 of 23) that if there is a delay to the start of the fall season, the summer conditioning programs that typically run in July should be extended until the beginning of the official start of practices.
The anonymous survey, which had under half of the potential schools and organizations respond, did offer the school superintendents and Heads of Schools the opportunity for additional comments, which included:
- At a minimum please allow some form of physical activity in the fall
- If we are in a hybrid model, I think we should create non-competitive opportunities for participation within the schools, but not compete until we go can go all in state-wide.
- We would be in support of the coaches continuing to be able to work with their athletes out of season throughout the fall. This is not a competitive edge at this point. It is a means to keep student athletes engaged with positive adults during a time when mental health issues are a serious concern.
- I don't believe sports (especially contact sports) should convene until a better treatment or a vaccine for COVID-19 is available
- Delay start of the season, with fall sports as conference only; no post-season for fall athletics and no overlap with winter athletics. If sports are condensed to January - June, we prefer the same sequence of athletics - fall, winter, spring
- I'm fine with allowing summer conditioning to continue contingent on health data. If the numbers get worse we will need to shut it down.
The agenda for Thursday's meeting also includes two other options: Suspending/Canceling a sport season, and "?", for a potential brainstorming session.
Delaware will have no shortage of models to look at from other states.
New Jersey has delayed the start of practices until September 14, with most competition beginning on October 2.
Pennsylvania's PIAA put out a statement on July 15 planning to start sports on time, including football's heat acclimatization on August 10, and practices on August 17.
California's CIF created a two-season model. Their fall sports would begin in December or January and run until March or April, with spring and winter sports following and running into late June.
Maryland's MPSSAA has put out a "Road Map for Return" that for the moment continues to lead towards stating on time, although Prince Georges and Montgomery Counties have already announced they will not be playing in fall sports, with Montgomery also cancelling winter sports.
New York's NYSPHSAA announced they will delay fall sports until September 21, with no regional or state championships, and practices starting on August 24.
- The NYSPHSAA also released a Plan B, which would go into effect if the fall season was interrupted by COVID-19.
- Winter Sports would run January 4-March 13
- Fall Sports would run March 1-May 8
- Spring Sports would run April 5-June 12
Virginia's VHSL said they will not play football this fall. They are considering options similar to Delaware's at a July 27 meeting of their Executive Committee.
Ultimately, the DIAA's pathway still runs through Governor Carney's decision on the schools. If Delaware goes into a remote-only model, the DIAA would be required to suspend all athletic activities. If schools are completely open, they could proceed, and if there is a hybrid model, it's not completely clear, but the guidelines state that crowds would have to be extremely limited, if competition was even allowed.
The DIAA Board of Directors meets at 9 a.m. Thursday, July 23, 2020.
The virtual meeting is available here, with a public comment period being available, but not until after the discussion of topics, and any potential votes, are already conducted by the board.