The Big Eight Conference continues to take a wait-and-see attitude toward the 2020-21 high school winter sports season.
Big Eight athletic directors met via Zoom conference call Wednesday to discus the upcoming season and the impact the coronavirus continues to have on not only sports but schools in general.
Currently, Janesville is the only school district in the Big Eight that is not schooling 100% virtually. Craig and Parker both have a blended format where students in Grades 9-12 attend school in person every other day.
Craig athletic director Ben McCormick said nothing was finalized in regards to winter sports at Wednesday’s meeting.
“There was no talk of canceling or any talk of throwing out a specific date that the winter season could start,” McCormick said. “It’s going to be up to each district in the conference to come out with a plan and policies in regards to what’s going on, and once that happens we’ll all take our proposals and what our districts will and won’t allow to the Big Eight commissioner so a decision can be made.
“I know people want answers and the athletes want to know what’s going to happen, but right now things are too fluid on a day-to-day basis to make a final decision.
“We all want a winter sports season, and we’ll do everything we can to make it happen. Canceling it all together is the last thing anyone wants.”
McCormick said as November and December approach, athletes that were normally involved in a winter sport should have the opportunity to play for a club, AAU team or any other time of traveling team without violating any WIAA eligibility rules.
For instance, as head boys basketball coach at Craig, McCormick would love to take his team to a tournament in Wisconsin Dells or somewhere else in December if the high school season is pushed back until January. As of now, that is not allowed under WIAA rules because school is in session, but McCormick believes that should be waived considering the ongoing pandemic and the missed practices and competitions so many athletes have already or will miss.
“I think of the hockey player that shouldn’t have to sit around and wait to see if he or she is going to have a season,” McCormick said. “They should be able to join a midget or bantam team or whatever age group they’re at in case the high school season never happens.
“And the same with the other sports. If I want to take my team up to a tournament at JustAGame in the Dells, I should be able to, even if it’s considered part of my contact days that we’re allowed.”
The next scheduled meeting for Big Eight athletic directors is Nov. 4.
Badger Conference in same boat
The Badger Conference athletic directors met Wednesday, as well, and reported very similar information coming out of their session.
“We had great discussions shared from schools in our conference that are hosting fall sports and what they have learned from hosting, traveling, implementing and enforcing guidelines, and offering a sport in COVID times,” said Jeff Schreiner, athletics and activities director at Monona Grove and president of the Badger Conference, in an email. “Our sportsmanship committee also met to look at and discuss how we can continue to promote sportsmanship this school year.
“At this time no winter sports decisions have been made for Badger Conference schools although we did look at impacts to expect given the county guidelines our schools operate within.”
Currently, the WIAA’s calendar lists the earliest day for girls basketball practice as Nov. 16, with games beginning Nov. 24. Those dates are Nov. 23 and Dec. 1 for boys basketball. Gymnastics and hockey practices, for boys and girls, can start Nov. 16. Wrestling and boys swim practices can start a week later.