PROVIDENCE – There has been no shortage of twists and turns in the desire to transition the R.I. high school winter sports season from practice to games and meets.
Before hustling off the Veterans Auditorium stage with the speed of a sprinter, Governor Gina Raimondo on Wednesday specifically mentioned high school sports as part of her COVID-19 updates. While the existing guidance is being extended through mid-February, Raimondo said “very likely we will be back out next week” with specific guidance for high school and youth sports.
The fact that Raimondo touched upon the status of high school sports was viewed as a victory of sorts that things were trending in a positive direction. The vast majority of member schools either began practicing on Jan. 4 or this past Monday. Coaches and players alike were clinging to the hope of beginning competition not long after Jan. 19, the final day of the Governor’s Executive Order that currently prohibits any competitions between schools
Then came the news that was delivered via email to the Times/Call in response to whether any progress had been made about said Executive Order. At 2:36 p.m., DEM Chief Public Affairs Officer Michael Healey issued the following: “The restrictions will remain in place through Jan. 31. So, it will still be just practices until then.”
Understandably, the word that teams would be in practice mode through the end of January did not sit well upon sharing this latest development on Twitter. At 5:50 p.m. Wednesday, Healey reached out to the Times/Call with a message that wished to correct what was issued earlier in the day.
“The Governor is still evaluating sports and when to lift the current restriction on games – for lower and moderate risk sports – to allow a winter sports season to start. However, all the details remain to be worked out, and I am not yet sure of the timing,” wrote Healey. ‘DEM will be working with the R.I. Interscholastic League on modifications and rules to protect kids and coaches and keep student-athletes in school.”
In other words, no final decisions have been made regarding when competitions can begin in basketball, hockey, swimming, indoor track & field, and gymnastics. Based off what Raimondo said on Wednesday, stay tuned and hold tight until next week’s announcement.
For those who are chomping at the bit to get going with games, know that Rhode Island is one of 27 states that opted to delay the start of the basketball season, per the National Federation of State High School Associations.
“Our focus is to get the winter sports season up and running, but very shortly, we’ll be turning our attention to those future seasons and how we might be able to get those done,” said RIIL Executive Director Mike Lunney during this past Monday’s Principals’ Committee on Athletics meeting. “Our intent is to move forward and try to offer every sport this year, but we’ll take a look at the calendar and make the necessary adjustments.”
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03