The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) last week updated its “Roadmap for the Return of Interscholastic Athletics.”
It mainly reinforces what Baltimore County had been telling athletes and their parents the week before: all three sports seasons playing abbreviated schedules when the second semester starts at the beginning of February and lasting until June 19.
The winter season (basketball, wrestling, indoor track) will begin practices on Feb. 1 through Feb. 21, with competition starting on Feb. 22 and ending March 27.
Practices for the fall season (football, soccer, field hockey, volleyball, badminton and cross country) are from March 15 through April 4, with competition beginning on April 5 and ending May 8.
Spring sports (track and field, baseball, softball, tennis, lacrosse) will practice April 26 to May 16, and compete from May 17 to June 19.
That gives each season about three weeks for practice and re-conditioning, followed by five weeks of competition.
No decision has yet been made on state tournaments.
According to the MPSSAA document, “the highest risk, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, is increased participation opportunities that include 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.”
The MPSSAA also warns the Roadmap “is intended to be fluid and will be modified as needed based on guidance from the” State Department of Education, Department of Health and the Public School Superintendent Association of Maryland.
Since Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced last month the state is now in Stage 3 of the Maryland Roadmap to Recovery, that means schools may fully resume in-person activities, but must comply with ant state and/or local restrictions in place.
The Baltimore County School Board decided last month the county would use remote learning for the entire first semester, which ends on Jan. 31.
With the state in Stage 3, the possibility was left open by the county school board of re-evaluating the decision at the end of the first quarter.
The MPSSAA will allow local school systems to conduct the following sports-related activities in the first semester: virtual practices or in-person conditioning; skill-building sessions; sport-specific practices, intramurals and scrimmages with other schools as allowed by factors identified by local health departments.
Baltimore County also requires all athletes interested in playing sports in the second semester must register in the first semester, complete their physicals and engage in activities with their teams.
(The MPSSAA does state teams competing during the second semester may not be “established” during the first semester; tryouts and team selection must take place during the three weeks given for preseason practice and re-conditioning.)
During the five-week “seasons,” the amount of games played will be determined by the MPSSAA’s defined weekly and seasonal contest limitations per sport.
Which means no more than five football games.
Baseball, softball, golf and tennis can play up to three games/matches a week, according to MPSSAA rules; badminton, basketball, field hockey, golf, cross country, lacrosse, indoor and outdoor track, volleyball and wrestling may not have more than two games/matches/meets a week.
There are exceptions: badminton, basketball, field hockey, lacrosse, soccer and volleyball may schedule three games/match in one week twice during the season, while track and cross country may schedule three meets in a week once during the season.
Football: one game a week. No exceptions.
Baseball and softball could play as many as 15 games during the abbreviated seasons, while basketball, lacrosse, field hockey, volleyball and soccer can each schedule 12 contests.
If the MPSSAA determines state tournaments are not possible, then local school systems will have the option to conduct postseason tournaments to determine county, city or conference championships.