Okay; now this one should stick.
Baltimore County released its latest plan for the return of high school sports last week, with the winter sports season beginning practice on Dec. 7, games beginning on Jan. 4 and the regular season ending on Feb. 13.
This replaces the former plan which had sports beginning on Feb. 1, the start of the second semester, and games beginning on Feb. 20.
Under that plan, winter sports would lead off, fall sports would start around five weeks later, with spring sports following.
Each sport season would have played an abbreviated schedule.
In September, the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) gave local school systems the option of starting fall practice on Oct. 7 and competition beginning at the end of the month.
Only three counties (opted to start fall sports last month. Baltimore County was not one of them.
Under the new schedule (called the “Fall re-engagement plan for high school athletics” by the county), winter sports will begin voluntary conditioning and skill development sessions from Nov. 16 to Dec. 4.
Fall sports will conduct these sessions from Dec. 7 through Dec. 30, while the spring voluntary sessions are scheduled for Jan. 4 though Jan. 22.
The fall season will start practices on Feb. 13 and hold its season from March 5 through April 17. Spring starts practices on April 17 and will have its season from May 7 to June 19.
“We appreciate the important and unique role that athletics play in connecting students to their schools, promoting physical and mental health, developing students’ collaborative and leadership skills, and more,” BCPS Superintendent Dr. Darryl L. Williams said in a statement posted on the BCPS website. “We have worked closely with our athletics and health services staff and with the Baltimore County Department of Health in developing this opportunity to bring student-athletes back to school campuses for conditioning and skill development activities.”
To participate, students must register, complete pre-participation physicals, and sign parent/student participation acknowledgement statements.
It is also recommended students receive flu shots, although this is not mandatory.
Athletes will also be expected to wear face coverings, practice social distancing, and bring their own water bottles and hand sanitizers to practices.
Students who do not comply will be removed from teams and not permitted to re-join them.
Other facets of starting sports, like transportation to and from games, are still being determined.
Postseason tournaments fall under the jurisdiction of the MPSSAA (unless a county prefers to just hold a county championship tournament).
For winter sports, the MPSSAA has posted that counties which did not opt to begin fall sports in October must fit a postseason into the time frame for competition.
So the winter postseason must finish by Feb. 13, fall by April 17 and spring by June 19.
It has not yet been revealed as to what form these postseasons will take: just county tournaments, regional, etc.
Many schools belong to conferences which cover two or more counties — the Monocacy Valley Athletic League, the Upper Chesapeake Bay Conference, and the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference — which could opt for their own championship postseasons.