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NC High School Athletic Association delays start of fall sports

The N.C. High School Athletic Association on Wednesday announced three rule changes, including delaying the start of fall sports until at least Sept. 1.

Two other changes are the first five days of the 2020-2021 school year designated as a “dead period” for all sports, allowing school staff to focus on the start of school, and phase one of the summer conditioning and workouts will continue until further notice.

“For now, we believe these steps provide hope for our student athletes, and the possibility for playing fall sports,” said Commissioner Que Tucker. “We know that many decisions are being made relative to the reopening plan your school(s) will follow. After each LEA has had an opportunity to formalize and finalize those reopening plans, the NCHSAA staff will survey the membership to determine how sports should and/or can fit into the various models that will exist across the state.”

The delayed start date, Tucker said, could be delayed even further if the COVID-19 outbreak in the state does not improve or if there’s another reason for a further delay. Playing certain sports, he said, are more problematic at any time without a vaccine, but a Sports Medicine Advisory Committee within the association believes sports programs can and should be offered at some point with modifications.

“In the coming weeks, we will continue working with the SMAC as we plan our next steps for the fall, as well as determining when equipment could be shared — i.e. balls — and/or if we can move into Phase 2 of the summer workouts/conditioning,” Tucker said. “Each NCHSAA board Member believes in the value of education-based athletics and is committed to safely offering a fall, winter, and spring sports program during this school year; however, there is also a commitment to the health and safety of students and coaches. Towards this end, we all will continue to follow the guidance of the Department of Health and Human Services relative to the data and how we all safely move forward. We are in this together, and we will play again.”

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