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Football Will Not Be Played, Volleyball Gets Green Light — For Now



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Traditional 11 versus 11, full-contact high school football will not be played in Connecticut, but girls’ volleyball season has the go-ahead to play, along with the other fall sports. The entire fall sports season, which has been pushed to an October 1 start with games, however, remains a question mark.

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC), announced on September 4 an update to the planned fall sports season following its September 3 Board of Control Meeting, which includes the no-go for football, considered by the Department of Public Health (DPH) as a high-risk sport.

According to the September 4 announcement on its website, ciacsports.com,

regarding football, “The CIAC, in alignment with DPH guidance, will now work with its dedicated athletic directors and football coaches to provide football players with the best low and moderate risk experiences possible.”

Volleyball, a moderate-risk indoor sport, may be played with modifications.

“The CIAC believes that wearing masks while playing volleyball mitigates DPH’s concern of indoor moderate risk sports and aligns with NFHS guidance,” according to the announcement.

CIAC officials emphasize that things are fluid and subject to change as girls’ and boys’ soccer, girls’ and boys’ cross country, field hockey, girls’ swimming, and girls’ volleyball practice throughout a significantly modified preseason.

According to the announcement, “At its September 3 meeting, the CIAC Board of Control reviewed DPH’s response to its August 28 letter requesting support of (1) modifications which lower the risk of indoor volleyball; (2) low to moderate risk activities in football; and (3) an opportunity to re-assess the viability high risk full contact football based on COVID metrics at the end of September or early October.

“In its September 3 letter to CIAC, the DPH stated, “With regard to CIAC’s consideration of additional mitigation strategies for indoor girls’ volleyball and football that may lower their risks for person-to-person respiratory droplet spread, DPH has suggested that CIAC consider modifications to higher risk activities, and we continue to encourage such modifications. Absent such modifications, DPH is unlikely to support higher risk activities for the Fall term. We would also recommend that CIAC consult with your sports medicine committee before implementing significant changes to how high school sports are played in our state so that any potential unintended consequences of those changes (including increased risk of injury) can be fully vetted prior to implementation.

“In alignment with DPH’s recommendation to consult its sports medicine committee, the CIAC and its medical experts believe that the modification of wearing masks mitigates the risk expressed by DPH and provides a safe indoor environment for the sport of volleyball. As such, with the modification of players wearing masks indoors, the CIAC has aligned volleyball with DPH’s previous support of full team practice and game schedules for soccer, field hockey, cross country, and swimming.”

The CIAC has made efforts to allow a football season to unfold, referencing the success of full-contact football in other states, and made this statement in the announcement:

“Previously, the CIAC provided its position that COVID metrics continue to support the playing of high risk sports in Connecticut, as they have since July 6, and has emphasized the value that football provides its student-athletes from a physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and mental health standpoint. In doing so, the CIAC feels it has exhausted all possible scenarios in seeking DPH support for a full contact football experience this fall.

“As such, the CIAC Board of Control, in alignment with DPH recommendations, has determined that high risk full contact football is no longer a viable option. In alignment with DPH’s encouragement to consider modifications to higher risk activities, the CIAC will collaborate with athletic directors, coaches, and medical experts to provide football players with meaningful low to moderate risk fall activities. While the CIAC’s fall sports offerings are now aligned with DPH recommendations, it still stresses that progression to full team practices and moderate risk activities on September 21 and game play on October 1 is dependent on COVID metrics that support such activities. The CIAC will remain fluid in providing the safest experiences possible for our student-athletes and will continue to consider any future changes in DPH recommendations for fall sport activities.”

The CIAC’s full statement may be found at https://ciacsports.com/site/?p=14806.

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