The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA), which governs most high school athletics in the state, has unveiled a plan for a ‘split season’ for fall athletics, including girls’ swimming, in the 2020-2021 school year. This decision comes as districts and schools around the state offer varying opinions on what they believe should happen with high school athletics amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
While the state is still allowing fall athletics to happen, they are also offering the option of a shortened spring season.
The decision was made by the WIAA Board of Control on Friday and comes amid a split of opinions on how to proceed. Many schools and districts have independently decided to not offer fall athletics, including the 4 high schools in the capital Madison that offer intercollegiate athletics – East, LaFollette, Memorial, and West. The decision was made by the Madison School Board.
Other districts, including those in Appleton, Green Bay, and La Crosse, have announced their intention to cancel fall athletics as well.
The standard girls’ swimming and diving season is scheduled to be 13 weeks, with practice beginning on August 17 and the state championship meet scheduled for November 13-14.
By comparison, the spring season would allow for 8 weeks, with practices beginning in mid-February and a season-ending meet of some sort in early April. Only 1 week has been allocated for the spring season-ending meet, as compared to the usual two-tier championship season of Sectionals and State meets in the fall.
The 11-week boys swimming & diving season is scheduled to begin on November 23 and end on February 1. That’s a season that’s 2 weeks shorter than the normal season, with no ‘alternative’ option offered.
The state meets in the past have been held at the University of Wisconsin, but as of now, Dane County is limiting indoor “sporting events” to no more than 10 people. By November, the state is usually seeing weather too cold for outdoor meets, and there aren’t many championship-caliber pools in the state.
This leaves the state with a patchwork of participation, much like it has seen a patchwork of regulations related to coronavirus. After a lawsuit was filed by Republican legislators, in May, any statewide restrictions were lifted and left to municipal administrators to make rules and enact restrictions.
Wisconsin, like most of the country, saw a spike in new positive tests for coronavirus beginning in mid-June. That peaked in late July with over 1,000 daily cases, and has been on a slight downward trend since, though last week saw cases spike again.
In total, the state has recorded 68,761 total cases for coronavirus and 1,035 deaths caused by COVID-19. Wisconsin is doing better-than-average among American states in terms of both positive tests and deaths per capita.