Three sports seasons will start in February

ANNAPOLIS — For a year in which so much has been different, maybe this isn’t the biggest surprise: Public high schools will have sports after all, just not the way athletes, parents and fans are used to.

Cambridge-South Dorchester High School Athletic Director Kareem Otey posted on Friday, “Looks like all three seasons will be taking place starting in February.”
The news is welcome to many, as students and their families wondered and worried what would happen to scholarship potential if games and meets were not held, especially for seniors who had already put three years of effort into their sports. For their part, teachers and administrators recognize that team membership is an important influence in keeping many students on course through their studies.

An announcement from the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association spelled out the three abbreviated seasons, which will take place in the second semester.

Beginning Feb. 1-June 19, 2021
A. Fall, Winter, Spring Sport competition and championship seasons administered in modified formats.
B. SEASON 1 – Sport Season Winter

  1. Feb. 1-21 – Sport Season Practice and Reconditioning.
  2. Feb. 22-March 27 – Sport Competition Season.
  3. Five weeks of interscholastic athletic competition available.
    C. SEASON 2 – Sport Season Fall
  4. March 15-April 4 – Sport Season Practice and Reconditioning.
  5. April 5-May 8 – Sport Competition Season.
  6. Five weeks of interscholastic athletic competition available.
    D. SEASON 3 – Sport Season Spring
  7. April 26-May 16 – Sport Season Practice and Reconditioning.
  8. May 17-June 19 – Sport Competition Season.
  9. Five weeks of interscholastic athletic competition available.
    E. Special Considerations and Accommodations – The MPSSAA is working with local school systems (LSS), facilities, and health professionals regarding a variety of special accommodations and considerations. Examples include:
  10. The availability of facilities that are already at a premium (Swimming and Indoor Track Complexes).
  11. Additional training time for baseball and softball pitchers to prepare for a shortened five-week season.
  12. Sport modifications for competition based on status of COVID-19 response.
    F. MPSSAA State Tournaments – The MPSSAA recognizes the highest risk, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, is increased participation opportunities that includes statewide competitions among different geographic areas. The MPSSAA will look for creative ways regarding these types of events and make decisions as we get closer to the second semester.
    G. Expectation Timeline – Additional guidance on the timeframe, scheduling, and second semester sport seasons will be available after continued assessment of local school systems.
    The MPSSAA provided answers to anticipated questions:
    What is involved in the second semester of the plan?
    The second semester plan provides three distinct competition sport seasons. Each sport season will have a 20-calendar day preseason and a five-week competition season. Winter sports will be administered first, followed by Fall, and finally Spring sports.
    How many games can I play in my sports five-week competition season?
    Member schools will be subject to the MPSSAA defined weekly and seasonal contest limitations per sport within the five-week timeframe. Under this plan all sports will have an opportunity to play between 50 and 100 percent of their typical regular season allotment of contests.
    What happens if a sport or the entire competition season is unable to take place?
    The sport or competition season will be canceled for the year and the LSS will be able to operate any version of the first semester plans until the next sport season begins.
    What happens if LSS are unable to participate in a defined sport season?
    If LSS are unable to participate in a sport season, the competition season will continue for those LSS that can compete. The LSS unable to compete will cancel the competition season and have the ability to operate under any version of the first semester plans. The LSS will have the ability to enter a sport season late, or the next available sport season. The 20-calendar preseason practice timeframe will not be waived for any LSS starting late.
    Why was this order of sport seasons chosen as compared to a different order?
    Arguments can be made for any sport season to participate first, second, or third in this modified format. Consultation with the LSS, the PSSAM, and the MDH determined this was the best timeframe for all sports.
    Will there be state tournaments or championships?
    The MPSSAA recognizes the highest risk, according to the CDC, is increased participation opportunities that includes statewide competitions among different geographic areas. This reality places state championships or culminating events in jeopardy depending on the sport. Each respective sport will be evaluated by the MPSSAA on an individual basis to make calculated and informed decisions dependent on the characteristics of the MPSSAA-administered sport, the number of programs being administered by member schools, and local and state health department guidance on the status quo of statewide participation. The MPSSAA will look for creative ways regarding these types of events and make decisions as we get closer to the second semester.
    In the event state competition is not possible, due to health metrics and participation restrictions, will LSS be able to conduct city/county/conference postseason tournaments or culminating events?
    Yes. If state tournaments or championships are not possible, LSS will have the flexibility to conduct culminating events in their respective city/county/conference. Additional guidance on the timeframe, scheduling, and second semester sport seasons will be available by mid-October after continued assessment of LSS educational plans, further consultation with the MDH, and review of all considerations and accommodations for the competition season.