As the CIAC Board of Control voted today to approve a plan for an abbreviated winter schedule, the time constraints forced the governing body for high school sports in the state to cancel an alternative season that would have started next month and allowed for a partial football season.
The Board of Control’s winter plan calls for practices to begin on Tuesday, with the season extending at the latest until March 28. Spring practices are set to begin the following day. All spring sports were canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the proposed alternative season, fall sports that did not complete 40 percent of their seasons would get a second chance at having some type of season.
Football, which was canceled because it is considered a high-risk sport, would have been allowed to start practices on Feb. 22. Games would have been played from March 19 until April 27, cutting into parts of both the winter and spring seasons.
According to Lungarini, 38 percent of football players participate in a spring sport.
“We certainly understand and empathize that those athletes that would have been able to have some sort of competition in that alternative season will not be able to have that competition,” CIAC executive director Glenn Lungarini said during a noon-time Zoom conference with the media.
Some FCIAC football teams played a 7 on 7 season in the fall. A number of schools also took part in a month-long conventional 11 on 11 season as part of a senior division under the banner of the Fairfield County Football League.
The state Department of Public Health has recommended that no high-risk sports be held until the end of the winter season. Wrestling, cheerleading and competitive dance have all had their seasons canceled.
Lungarini said an additional factor to the decision was recommendations for the National Federation of High School Athletic Associations that if spring football were played the upcoming fall schedule might have to be reduced because of exposure to concussions and contact during the calendar year.
“The alternative season really was a place that we were seeing those high-risk sports maybe shifted to,” Lungarini said. “However, with no sports being played through Jan. 19, that significantly reduces the time frame that we could hold that alternative season.”