NHIAA hopeful for spring return
- Updated: April 8, 2020
As you likely know, the NHIAA has pushed back the starting dates for its spring sports season. Currently, assuming it’s safe for everyone involved, practices are scheduled to start May 4 and competition can begin May 13.
What’s the likelihood of a spring high school sports season in New Hampshire? That’s one of many questions NHIAA executive director Jeff Collins addressed during an interview Tuesday.
Collins said the NHIAA will do whatever it can to salvage some sort of season for New Hampshire’s high school athletes, but he stressed that everything depends on whether or not there is a safe environment to do so.
“We’re taking the guidance from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and the Department of Health and Human Services,” he said. “That’s where it was suggested we get all the information we possibly can about what’s going on, and how this virus is affecting all of us. We really made the best decisions we possibly could given the timeframe.
“What happens if they push back the date to return to school? Then we’ll look to see what we can salvage and push back our start dates and see what we can get in for a season. We haven’t put out a drop-dead date that we’re going to make a decision at this point in time because it’s really just a very fluid situation. When is it safe to gather together? We’ll try to make some recommendations and decisions on that.”
Under the current plan, Collins said, baseball and other team sports would have an open state tournament. Teams would not have to play a minimum number of games to qualify. He said the NHIAA will do what it can to preserve the postseason tournaments.
“What we are looking at currently is a shortened, abbreviated season where teams can get anywhere from six to 10 games in, (and) have an open tournament,” he said. “Have all the teams in each division be eligible to compete if they want to. That’s where we’re at. We’ll certainly re-adjust when the end of the month comes here.”
Collins said although it may be unlikely, there is a scenario where a spring sports season is possible without the student-athletes returning to school (the physical building). He pointed out that Vermont has committed to virtual learning for the remainder of the school year even if it is deemed safe to return, but is still hoping for some type of spring sports season. Again, this wouldn’t happen unless the NHIAA received word that it is safe to do so.
“That’s what we’re learning from Vermont is that although the governor has said remote learning for the remainder of the year there may be an opportunity for them to open up schools again for graduations, for proms and things of the like,” Collins said. “If there is that opportunity then there may be an opportunity to have some sort of abbreviated season in Vermont. We’re holding out hope that we can work through this and salvage something moving forward here.
“It’s based upon the guidelines. If the kids aren’t returning to school and we’re still under social distancing protocol it would be very difficult to have some sort of spring season, so it’s all contingent upon how this disease progresses across our state in the coming weeks.”
Collins said if the season does begin on May 13 teams would likely pick up their schedule at that point, although schedules could be adjusted to preserve rivalry games.
“The simple thing to do would be to pick up exactly where we are in the season and move forward,” he said.
Some states, like Massachusetts, have pushed back the end of the spring sports season (assuming there is one) to late June. Collins said there is no current plan to extend the end dates in New Hampshire, but he added that it may be discussed.
“(We’ll) try to get something in for the kids, especially for the seniors this year,” he said. “If it’s safe and if it’s possible we’ll certainly work to do what’s necessary to bring back something for these kids.”