High school sports back on for the fall

DOVER – It looks like there will be a high school fall sports season this fall after all.

The Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association board of directors voted, 14-2, today to begin the fall sports pre-season on Sept. 28. There would be three weeks of practices leading into the season with a 25-day preseason for football.

Last month, the DIAA voted unanimously to push the fall season back until late winter.

Today’s decision will still have to be voted on by the state board of education at its meeting next week.

Under the plan, actual competitions in field hockey, boys’ soccer, cross country and volleyball can begin on Oct. 19 with football starting on Oct. 23. Football would have a seven-game regular season with a six-week regular season for the other fall sports.

Other sports, besides football, will have a maximum 12 competition dates in the regular season.

There would be state tournaments although the number of teams involved may be changed. Football would probably have only four teams in each of its two tourneys.

The state tournaments in most sports would conclude on Dec. 12 with football concluding on Dec. 19.

Winter sports would start on Nov. 30 and spring sports on March 1.

The situation had become the subject of great debate in the state, especially considering that most schools have started the academic year without students actually in the building.

A parents’ social-media group attracted about 3,900 members who pushed for scholastic athletics to begin in the fall.

Athletes will have to wear masks during competition in most cases with a number of other health guidelines needing to be followed to try to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

High school athletes have not competed in scholastic sports since last March when the pandemic first hit nationally. Some schools have not held any team workouts over the summer.

Smyrna school board member Vetra Evans-Gunter and Early College High School principal Evelyn Edney were the two DIAA board members to vote against starting the fall season this month.

When the DIAA voted last month to move the fall season to next year, football was not permitted to be played in Delaware. But Governor John Carney announced last week that football could be played, as long as certain guidelines are followed.