ASAA addresses cancellation of fall championships, approach to winter sports

Published: Oct. 14, 2020 at 6:50 PM AKDT
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The Alaska School Activities Association, the regulating body for high school sports in the State, canceled all fall sports championships Tuesday after consulting with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

“We got to a point where we felt like we were being irresponsible to start blending too many communities,” said ASAA Executive Director Billy Strickland. “The sense of urgency was how quickly and how recently case counts are just rapidly going, whether we are talking Anchorage or Fairbanks. The strong message that I believe we heard from the Department of Health and Social Services, is keeping people within their region really protects the bubble if you will.”

West Valley was scheduled to host Palmer High School on Saturday for the first round of the Division II State Football Playoffs, while Monroe Catholic was set to bring in Houston on Friday for the semifinals of the DIII Playoffs. The Playoffs are now canceled, however Lathrop will visit Monroe on Friday at 6 p.m. for the final game of the season, while North Pole hosts Eielson Wednesday to conclude their season.

For sports currently in season, areas are allowed to complete their Regional Championships if done so by November 22.

The High School Cross Country and Tennis State Championships were held last weekend, as those sports concluded with decided champions. Several other fall sports have yet conclude their season, or for the case of swim and dive, have yet to even start their season. The Region VI swim schedule is expected to be released later this week, but the final day of competition must take place on or before November 21, leaving them with a very condensed schedule.

ASAA encourages the current fall sports such as volleyball, rifle and eSports to host a Regional Championship, even if there is no State competition.

As ASAA finalizes the decision on fall sports, winter sports such as basketball, hockey and skiing are right around the corner. Strickland says ASAA’s calendar committee will regularly meet to construct schedules for winter sports, which are likely to begin in January after winter break. This would leave an intentional “dead period” from the end of November through the beginning of January after winter break.

“We are basically going to do a hiatus from Thanksgiving until we reconvene,” Strickland said. “That was also real clear from the medical folks, that the travel associated with the holidays and the way people unfortunately will still probably get together in larger settings, lead them to believe that that’s going to again be an issue and it was a bad time to blend even more sports activities.

“I would anticipate probably shorter seasons," he said of winter sports. “Maybe in the nature of a five-to-seven week season where you may actually play more games than practice and some kids may find that a lot of fun.” he added.

2020 fall sports had a similar fate to the 2019-20 winter sports; being able to play most or all of a regular season before state championship events were canceled. What ASAA wants to avoid entirely, is the fate of the 2020 spring sports; canceled all together without competing in a single event.

“I think sometimes, and unfortunately, the regular season gets undervalued. So much of the focus is on the state events and they’re important, fun and motivating, but the ability to have a regular season is important,” Strickland said “I believe that if we compare the basketball teams last year to the soccer teams, having a regular season up through a regional championship, was still better than the [alternative].”

ASAA’s next board meeting is scheduled for November 9.

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