November 19, 2020
New Jersey's winter high school sports season has been pushed back until early 2021 as the state grapples with a spike in COVID-19 cases.
The season – initially slated to start next month – will be conducted in a staggered approach, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic ASsociation's Sports Advisory Task Force announced Thursday.
Ice hockey will be the first sport allowed to resume practices and games. Workouts can begin Dec. 14, with games beginning Jan. 4. The season will conclude Feb. 17.
Basketball, bowling and fencing can begin practicing Jan. 11. Competitions begin Jan. 26 and will wrap up by March 6.
Swimming and winter track and field can hold practices beginning Feb. 1. Competitions start Feb. 16 and will end by March 27.
Gymnastics and girls volleyball – postponed from the fall – can begin practices March 1 and competitions on March 16. Their seasons will conclude by April 24. This timeline also applies to wrestling.
The latter three sports are under consideration for statewide postseason play. But that will be determined at a later date, the NJSIAA said.
The NJSIAA will not sponsor postseason tournaments for other sports due to the public health crisis. Conferences and leagues can host postseason competitions.
No spectators will be permitted when the season gets underway due to indoor gathering limits imposed by Gov. Phil Murphy.
Practices and competitions can exceed the 10-person limit, but only necessary individuals can be in attendance. That includes players, coaches and referees, but the event must be kept to 25% of the venue's capacity or 150 people — whichever number is lower.
A complete guide to the NJSIAA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols for the upcoming winter season can be accessed here.
"We remain keenly focused on providing New Jersey's student athletes with the opportunity to participate in sports, and given current health data and modeling, we believe pushing the schedules back ensures the best opportunity for our kids," NJSIAA Chief Operating Officer Colleen Maguire said.
"The staggered winter schedule is based on feedback from health officials, anticipated capacity limitations as well as the availability of facilities which are used by many of our winter sports."
New Jersey currently is prohibiting youth and scholastic teams from traveling out of state for indoor competitions.