Since the NIAA revised its 2020-21 schedule in July, today was supposed to mark the start of high school sports in Nevada. And while some winter sports can start their seasons today, others can't due to state-wide COVID-19 restrictions.
The truncated season released over the summer incorporated three six-week seasons, one each for winter sports, fall sports and spring sports. Winter sports were scheduled to start competition today, but two of the five winter sports the NIAA offers are still on the governor's office's "no play" list, those being basketball and wrestling.
On Monday, Governor Steve Sisolak extended the current statewide pause for 30 days due to high community spread and strained hospitals. While he did not address high school sports, it is believed to be thought the state will not allow contact sports such as basketball, wrestling and football until that pause is lifted.
The NIAA office said this week it is still waiting to learn from the governor’s office what the extended pause means for playing high school basketball, wrestling and football, the three sports currently on the "no play" list.
Here's a look at where things stand for the three prep sports season.
Winter sports: The state is allowing winter sports skiing, bowling and flag football, the third of those being a South-based sport, although Clark County School District schools are not participating in winter sports this year. Among Northern sports, skiing and bowling can be played as scheduled with competitions being allowed starting today. Basketball and wrestling remain in a holding pattern, although they can do modified practice without contact. Those sports remain banned for games in the state. The winter sports season concludes Feb. 20, so barring a rule change from the state, those sports might not be played this season.
Fall sports: In July, Nevada's fall sports, including football, were moved from the fall to the late winter/early spring. The belief was the state would be in a better position with COVID-19 to safely play those sports, although that hasn't come to fruition as case numbers are worse now than they were then. The NIAA schedule allows football practice to start Feb. 13, although football remains on the governor's "no play" list. That must change before teams are allowed to fully practice or play games, which begin March 5 for fall sports. The other fall sports are cross country, girls golf, volleyball, soccer and tennis. Those are allowed under state rules and are expected to commence with practice Feb. 20. "We do not expect any changes to the practice/competition schedule for those sports," the NIAA said.
Spring sports: While fall and winter sports athletes completed their entire 2019-20 season before the pandemic struck, spring sports were not as fortunate, with their seasons being canceled a month into play last year. The good news for those athletes is they should have a season in 2020-21. The NIAA's spring sports include baseball, boys golf, softball, swimming and diving, track and field and boys volleyball (South), and all of those sports are cleared for competition. Practice for spring sports begin April 3, games start April 16 and the season concludes May 22.
All but three of the NIAA's sanctioned sports are allowed to be played per state rules, the three on the "no play" list being football, basketball and wrestling. Lacrosse, which the NIAA does not sanction but is widely played in Northern Nevada as a club sport, also is on the "no play." Group cheer and group dance are on the restricted list, too. Due to the shortened season, the NIAA will not hold state tournaments this year, but regional championships can be held.
"To reiterate the obvious, schools/districts must be in some form of at least a hybrid learning model in order to be eligible to participate in NIAA-sanctioned competitions," the NIAA said.
Washoe County, which shifted to full-time virtual learning in December, is scheduled to return to in-person learning on an every-other-day basis in middle and high school starting Tuesday.