IHSAA updates COVID-19 guidelines for winter sports


As the first teams begin practice and cases of the coronavirus continue to spread through Indiana and across the world, the Indiana High School Athletic Association is simultaneously issuing fresh guidelines for winter sports as fall sports seek to wrap up.

With a wary eye, Indiana’s state government has watched the spike in COVID-19 to higher levels, hinting at possible game interruptions if they keep growing.

As girls and boys basketball, wrestling, gymnastics and girls and boys swimming edge toward the beginning of their winter campaigns, the IHSAA has added to its COVID-19 Resource Center, urging caution, social distancing and safe behavior so the games can go on and go forward.

Once again, as it did in the fall, the IHSAA stressed the value in life lessons, activities and for the mental health of students in supporting the continuation of interscholastic athletics.

And the governing body of Indiana high school sports has continued to back the role of individual schools’ athletic directors to establish guidelines for participation, practice and attendance at their schools built around health approaches.

“Some areas will have higher COVID-19 rates that may not warrant full athletic participation, while another area has lower COVID-19 rates that allow full participation,” a statement said in part.

“As the science about COVID-19 evolves, it will be important to remain vigilant and nimble to respond to new developments.”

Seymour has the busiest winter season among area high schools, fielding basketball squads for boys and girls, swimming for boys and girls, wrestling and gymnastics teams. Brownstown Central, Trinity Lutheran, Crothersville and Medora only have basketball during the winter sports season.

Different teams had various experiences in combating the virus during the fall season. Medora and Seymour’s volleyball team had to quarantine at the start of the season. The Brownstown football team had to stand down from practice during summer drills.

Most teams faced cancellations on their schedules due to opponents’ problems.

As of Tuesday, the virus had afflicted 40.8 million people worldwide with 1.1 million deaths. Across the United States, the numbers were 8.5 million illnesses with almost 226,000 deaths. In Indiana there were 150,000 cases and 4,000 deaths.

Guidelines issued by the IHSAA are in accordance with many national recommendations and Gov. Eric Holcomb’s state Stage 5 opening policies. Some items are sport-specific, such as the requirement to spray down mats in wrestling.

Wrestlers will have their temperature taken prior to weigh-ins and must shower after weigh-ins.

Most rules minimize other than competition contact, with athletes told not to engage in sportsmanship handshakes, not to share towels or equipment, to arrange for seating near the mat, floor, or pool so athletes are not too close to one another. Coaches are being asked to wear masks at all times during events.

In swimming, the athletes are asked to arrive at the pool dressed for competition. Only one athlete at a time should turn at the end of a lane. Swim teams are limit the number of participants at some meets.

Athletes in gymnastics and other sports are being urged not to shake hands, hug or fist bump and all should be encouraged to bring their own individual containers of hand sanitizer. In gymnastics, there will be a ban on shared chalk bowls.

Much more detail is provided by sport on the IHSAA website.

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