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MIAA winter season pushed back to Feb. 8 due to coronavirus pandemic spike

Due to the recent coronavirus surge in the state, the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association has pushed back its planned Jan. 11 start date of its winter athletic season.

Last week, the MIAA Board of Governors approved the season’s postponement and the league executive committee has recommended Feb. 8 as the earliest option to start the winter season with competition to begin Feb. 22, according to MIAA executive director Lee Dove.

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The MIAA sanctions the boys private school athletics throughout the Baltimore area and consists of 29 schools competing in three divisions.

“We were thinking of January 11 as a potential start date, but when the executive committee and the board met and discussed it, nobody felt January was going to be conducive,” Dove said, largely due to the recent pandemic spike and winter sports taking place indoors.

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Unlike the fall season, when the participating schools played an independent schedule, Dove said the winter season will be sanctioned by the league.

“We’re going to issue league schedules to member schools and we hope that we’re going to get a good turnout of schools that are available to play. There may indeed be some schools that are not in a position to play,” he said.

The new start date would have competition begin after two weeks of practice. The league will continue to monitor the pandemic and could opt to further delay the start of the season. With the league’s spring sports season slated to start March 1, the two seasons will overlap several weeks if everything stays as planned.

“We want people to know that we’re doing the best we can under these extremely stressful conditions to make decisions that will be beneficial to the student athletes,” Dove said.

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Archbishop Spalding coach Josh Pratt was surprised to learn about the February start considering how heavy coronavirus’ toll is right now, and how quickly numbers rose in the past few months. The coach thinks there’s still a chance winter sports overlap with spring.

“I think it’ll be about the numbers. There’s 3,000 people a day dying. There’s 300,000 deaths [nationwide]. People aren’t going to be going much indoors if it’s not safe and regulated. But I still think we’re going to have a season,” Pratt said.

The Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland, the girls private school league that has overlapping schools with the MIAA, announced Tuesday it will start its winter athletic season on Feb. 1 and run through March 13.

Basketball, indoor soccer, squash and swimming are the winter sports set to take place in the IAAM. Indoor track and field will not be offered due to the current closure of Prince George’s Sports & Learning Complex.

The league announced it will lift the “out of season practice policy” and allow winter workouts to start Jan. 19.

“Our goal remains the same for our winter season, as it was for our fall season; to create and promote opportunities for our student-athletes. That said, we are aware of local jurisdiction constraints and restrictions on athletics and gatherings. Further, we will continue to monitor local jurisdiction plans to possibly extend their current restrictions,” the IAAM wrote in Tuesday’ news release.

For the fall season, which was delayed and abbreviated, MIAA and IAAM schools had the option to play independent schedules with the coronavirus spike shutting all play down before their conclusions. The 101st annual Turkey Bowl, which features the Calvert Hall and Loyola Blakefield football teams annually on Thanksgiving Day, was among the games canceled.

Baltimore Sun Media reporters Katherine Fominykh and Tim Schwartz contributed to this article.

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