Wausau East football plays a game in 2015. School leaders approved sports fall sports starting in the fall, and not the alternative season in the spring.
Wausau schools will participate in fall sports, both high and low risk, this fall and not wait until the alternative spring season, school officials decided.
The Wausau School Board made the decision in a special meeting Monday. The recommendation also included the caveat that administration take whatever safety precautions it needs to, including having spectators wear masks or limiting how many can attend, not using locker rooms, and others.
The Wisconsin Inter-Scholastic Athletic Association created an alternative spring season earlier this month. Under the new WIAA guidelines, schools were given the option to participate either in the modified fall season in fall, or a newly created secondary fall season in the spring, with winter and spring sports season shortened to accommodate it. Any school that didn’t complete 50% of the fall season could participate in the second fall season.
Practices for low risk sports starts Sept. 1, with high risk sports such as football starting Sept. 7. Games start later in September.
The Wisconsin Valley Conference had already decided to move ahead with fall sports in the fall season, says Wausau West Athletic Brian Miller. Board member Jim Bouche told the board that it was best to follow the conference’s decisions to minimize travel — waiting for spring would likely mean traveling much farther, such as to the Fox Valley. That could present a greater COVID-19 risk.
The recommendation was different than that presented by WSD Administrator Keith Hilts. Hilts presented a plan that would have low risk sports — Tennis, cross country, golf and volleyball (with players wearing masks) starting in the fall. High risk sports such as football, boys soccer and swimming would have moved to the alternative season.
But as board member Lance Trollop pointed out, moving them to spring might put athletes at even greater risk. Since even spring sports struggle with finding clear fields to play on in Wisconsin springs, the even earlier alternative fall season in February and March would likely mean a lot of athletes are playing indoors.