HS indoor sports may get back on track, with government allowing ban to expire on Saturday

New Jersey high school winter sports season is on.

Indoor sports can resume this weekend, Gov. Phil Murphy said on Wednesday, lifting the month-long ban imposed in late November in a bid to mitigate the growing spread of COVID-19.

This means that the winter season – defined as season 2 this year – can progress as planned. Ice hockey, which changed its dates after the ban was put in place, will immediately begin practices and games January 15, while basketball, fencing and bowling will open practices on January 11 and games January 26. The indoor swimming and track will start training on February 1 and competitions on February 16.

READ MORE: Interstate youth hockey competitions will still be banned in region

Wrestling has already been moved to Season 3, starting March 1 for practice and March 16 for matches.

Teams will not be able to exceed the current state limit of 10 people for indoor gatherings during practices and games and spectators will not be allowed beyond that 10-person limit, Murphy said. This will formalize what the NJSIAA had declared to be a “practically speaking” spectator ban due to indoor meeting limits.

The ban on interstate travel for the competition will also remain in place, Murphy said.

“We recognize that any extension of the break would likely mean that many sports seasons would have to be abandoned entirely,” Murphy said in his briefing on Wednesday. “We don’t want that to happen. We know that sports are important to the physical and mental well-being of our youth and other residents. We will continue to monitor data on the outbreak closely and reserve the right to remove it if we have to.

The 7-day moving average of new virus cases in New Jersey is about what it was when Murphy announced the four-week suspension from indoor sports on November 30, when the average was 4,013 On Tuesday, it was 3,947 people.

However, the number of new cases was increasing by the time Murphy announced the suspension. The 7-day moving average peaked for the month on December 10 in 5,216 cases.

“We thought about what we would do if we extended that from Jan. 2 to Jan. 9 or Jan. 16, and frankly we had no belief that the numbers would show us a particularly different take on this point that would lead us to a different conclusion, ”Murphy said. “As long as people play fair, they play it right, they do the right thing, we’re open for business again on January 2 for indoor sports.”

In a statement, the NJSIAA said, “The NJSIAA welcomes the governor’s announcement and continued support, and looks forward to the start of the school, winter and indoor sports season – in particular, the season 2 of the NJSIAA.

“Occupancy restrictions will remain in effect as established by the governor’s decrees. And, of course, public health data can still have an impact on our seasons to come, so it’s critical that we all continue to support the 3Ws – wear your masks, watch your distance, and wash your hands. “

Even with that news, obstacles will still remain to make a high school athletic season work during the winter and in the midst of a peak in coronavirus cases.

A fall sports season in high school came to an end, but not without difficulty. Dozens of programs have been forced to close at the end of the season due to COVID-19 concerns, and many schools have chosen to revert to fully virtual learning just before the holidays.

In sports like ice hockey and basketball, teams can play a maximum of 15 games over the six-week season, which means that a two-week or 10-day stoppage will cost a team almost a third of their schedule. These seasons will …

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