Winter sports still up in the air

DOVER — Less than a week before the high school winter sports season is slated to start, the state still has not given approval for games to be played.

Gov. John Carney did say Tuesday that he was fairly pleased with how the fall sports season played out in Delaware amidst the pandemic.

But the fact that winter sports are held indoors could make the possibility of spreading COVID-19 more likely in basketball, wrestling, swimming and indoor track.

“Winter sports is another matter,” Carney said during his weekly pandemic update. “It’s indoors and there’s close contact in basketball and wrestling in particular.”

Dr. Karyl Rattay, Director of the Delaware Division of Public Health, said there have been some outbreaks among some winter sports programs. Schools in Delaware have been allowed to practice since early December.

“Indoors settings for contact sports is riskier,” said Dr. Rattay. “We have some decisions to make around that and we’re not at the point yet of knowing when competition will be allowed yet for winter sports.”

The Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association board of directors meets on Thursday to further discuss the matter.

Winter sports usually begin in early December. This year, however, they were scheduled to start on Jan. 12.

If sports are approved, teams will play a limited schedule and compete mostly within their own conference. So Henlopen Conference basketball squads are supposed to play a 14-game regular season.

As things stand now, they would play two games a week starting next Tuesday and ending on Feb. 25.

Henlopen wrestling programs are tentatively slated to compete in eight dual meets, ending on Feb. 6. The ability of wrestling to hold year-end tournaments is more problematic because of the number of individuals from a wide variety of schools who would be in close contact.

Swimming and indoor track & field may not have facilities to hold events right now, among the other issues.