WIAA still hoping for fall sports championships as schools pause or cancel seasons

High school football player
A Waupaca High School football player wears a mask on the sideline (WLUK/John Doran).

(WLUK) -- More high schools are canceling or postponing games across the state, especially in football, due to concerns over the coronavirus.

“If a school has to pause, that’s the best decision the district administrator can make, then you pause and you take the overall concern for your school, your students and your teachers and your community," said WIAA Deputy Director Wade Labecki. "If you pause, there’s nothing wrong with that, you can always come back and do more. If you have to call the season, you call the season. It’s more about getting those kids connected."

The WIAA says some fall sports such as tennis and volleyball are planning regionals and hoping for a state tournament. Girls golf began regionals on Wednesday. Football, on the other hand, has two weeks scheduled beyond the seven-game regular season. Those can be used for postseason, or makeup games.

“Football is going to remain at two levels. We have some schools that would like us to get a state championship in, but we want to be able to have that flexibility," said Labecki. "If a school does pause for two weeks, they still have those two games potential at the end of the season. We’re hoping that some schools get nine in, but they can go ahead and schedule games in there if they’re not in the playoffs. They can go ahead and get additional football games in.”

Labecki says the main focus this year isn’t necessarily on the competition, but keeping kids active and connected with their teammates and coaches.

“There’s a scoreboard at the end zone and there’s a reason for that, that’s to determine a winner and that’s why we play sports," he said. "If there weren’t a scoreboard, there probably wouldn’t be much motivation there. We try to go ahead and understand that concept so it’s hard to say, ‘let’s go ahead and pause here for a little bit. We want to go ahead and do that state tournament, because we have a really good team this year'. It’s difficult, this year’s different for everybody.”

The WIAA says it’s starting to discuss winter sports where everything goes indoors. And the current mask mandate would require all athletes, except swimmers, to mask up while competing.

“All of those are concerns that they will be discussing," said Labecki. "We’re developing guidelines, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re ready to implement them. I think we’ll start off with practices and see how that goes and then we’ll see where the games are and what the schools are comfortable with.”

The first winter sports are set to begin practice mid-November. The alternate fall season will start in late February at the earliest.