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AIA reinstates winter sports

CHINLE

After nearly an hour of deliberations, the Arizona Interscholastic Association Tuesday reversed its decision to cancel winter sports.

The decision, passed 5-4 during an emergency meeting, will allow schools to start their winter sports season next Monday.

The meeting was held via Zoom and was attended by the AIA executive board and members and was livestreamed so that people could watch online. At its height, as many as 4,000 people watched the meeting unfold.

“This has been a very challenging situation,” a joint statement released by the AIA said. “While we all desire to have our high school students in school and participate in interscholastic sports and activities, we feel it is imperative to consider the recommendations of medical professionals based on their expertise.

“Reinstating the winter season poses a risk to the healthcare system, which could impact students who may be injured. We believe that these additional modifications will serve to mitigate this risk as much as possible. Our member schools and families must understand how critical it is to adhere completely to all modifications.”

Said modifications include that all students, coaches and officials are required to wear a mask throughout the entirely of the game/contest. Each school will also complete the AIA COVID-19 Athlete/Coach Monitoring Form the day of all games/contests and provide a copy to the opposing school before each event. Only two parents or legal guardians may attend their student-athlete’s home games as allowed by their individual school and county guidelines. If any school violates the mandatory modifications, they will lose access to AIA officiating.

The ruling to start winter sports does not apply to most schools in the Northeast Region (most of which are located on the Navajo Nation) since their school districts have already canceled winter sports.

The emergency AIA meeting comes just five days after they voted to cancel winter sports. Since then, they have received complaints and petitions from athletes, coaches, schools and parents. Some members have said they have even received death threats though specifics weren’t given.

The AIA decision comes after reevaluating the situation and finding that if they have sports, then at least the AIA can regulate the events and ensure proper COVID-19 protocols are followed.

Whether winter sports will continue this way is unknown as the AIA promises to continue monitoring the situation and adapt as needed.

As of right now, Arizona has the highest number of COVID-19 cases per capita in the United States and possibly the world. AIA board members noted that there are more cases now during winter season there were in the fall season.

Executive Director David Hines also added to the statement.

“This has been a very difficult decision for the Executive Board. They have been weighing the concerns of the medical community, including the AIA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, and the requests by our member schools. We all want winter sports to happen, but it must be done safely.”


About The Author

David Smith

David Smith was born and raised in Chinle, Arizona. He graduated from Chinle High School in 2015 and went on to study journalism at Northern Arizona University. He graduated in the spring of 2020 with his bachelors in journalism and a minor in English. He later moved back home where he is now working as sports writer for the Navajo Times. Contact him at david.smith@navajotimes.com

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