AIA votes to allow more fans, continue mask mandate

The Arizona Interscholastic Association voted on Tuesday to allow more fans at winter sports contests including basketball, soccer and wrestling. The mask mandate for winter sports was voted in favor to continue through the remainder of the season and playoffs. 

The Arizona Interscholastic Association Executive Board discussed and voted on many agenda items during its meeting on Tuesday.

One item that was passed was allowing more fans to attend winter season home games, but it’ll be up to the school districts to determine the amount of spectators. According to the AIA, each district must check with their local health officials before deciding how many fans will be allowed to attend games.

Lake Havasu High Athletic Director Dustin Zampogna told the News-Herald on Tuesday that the school doesn’t plan to make any changes regarding home spectators. Since the start of the winter season, two parents or legal guardians of LHHS athletes have only been allowed attend home games. The school has not allowed any visiting spectators after the AIA reversed that ruling earlier this month.

“Even though the (covid-19) numbers are going down, they are still high (compared) to the beginning of the fall,” AIA Executive Director David Hines said in a statement. “So we are hoping people are reasonable to allow a few more people in their stands. But to open up completely would be not a good choice and not helpful to the community or the state of Arizona.”

Another item that voted by the board was the continuation of the mask mandate for winter sports. The mandate will continue for the remainder of the season including the playoffs.

The board plans to discuss if the mandate should continue on or about March 1, which is the first date that spring sports could begin practice.

Spring sports were discussed during the meeting and the start date for that season will be March 12, which was moved up from March 15 as the first permissible day to start competition.

Student-athletes who transferred prior to Feb. 8 will be allowed to compete immediately in their respective spring sports. For athletes who transferred after Feb. 8, schools will have to file a hardship appeal for them to play.

The AIA won’t allow tournaments or invitationals for spring team sports including baseball and softball after 1A-6A Conference leaders made the recommendation. This was voted to pass to allow teams to play their entire regular season schedules.

According to the AIA, spring golf, tennis and track teams might some have limited possibilities to compete in invitationals.

For the 2021-22 school year, the AIA will add eight questions to the pre-participation physical forms of student-athletes based on a recommendation from the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee.

Knights football to remain in same conference

Lake Havasu football will stay in the 4A Southwest Region after the board voted to have all football teams to remain with the same conferences for the 2021 season.

Schools will have five business days to appeal their conference placement. If an appeal is denied, schools have five business days to appeal the board’s decision.

The start and end dates for the 2021 football season was also discussed and with the 4A, 5A and 6A conferences starting practice on Aug. 9 and playing a 10-week schedule during an 11-week period from Aug. 27 to Nov. 12.

The playoffs for 4A, 5A and 6A are scheduled to begin on Nov. 17 and conclude Dec. 10-11.

The 1A conference will follow its traditional schedule per AIA bylaws while the 2A and 3A conferences will delay its seasons by a week. Playoffs for the 2A and 3A conferences begin on Nov. 5 and are set to conclude on Nov. 26 or 27.

The 4A, 5A and 6A conferences are delaying its seasons by two weeks after making the request to do so.

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