AHSAA: Fall sports will start on schedule

High school sports will start on schedule this fall.

AHSAA executives discussed safe practices in its return-to-play plan for the fall sports season during a news conference Thursday afternoon.

As the state of Alabama works to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus with a record-breaking number of cases being reported across the country, the AHSAA shared a document compiling best practices for returning to competition this fall. Fall sports rule modifications were approved by the AHSAA’s central board Wednesday and announced Thursday.

Regarding the modifications, the AHSAA documents said they are “meant to decrease potential exposure to respiratory droplets by encouraging social distancing, limiting participation in administrative tasks to essential personnel and allowing for appropriate protective equipment.”

A complete list of rule modifications can be found on the AHSAA’s website.

Here’s a look at some of the AHSAA’s 2020 fall sports rule modifications covering all four sports:

Cross Country

- Consider the use of finish corrals and fully automatic timing for larger meets as it’s easier to distance at the finish line. With no fully automatic timing system, consider alternative means of finish place and time to address congestion at finish line. 

- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and exercise equipment.

- Establish cross country-specific social-distancing meet protocols including the elimination of handshakes before and after meets.  

- For students, appropriate workout clothing should be washed and cleaned after every workout immediately upon returning home. Hand sanitizer should be plentiful at practices and contests. Athletes should tell coaches immediately if they are not feeling well. 

-For parents, make sure your child and immediate household members are free from illness before participating in practice and competition (if there is doubt stay home). Provide personal items for your child and clearly label them. 

Football

- The team box will be extended on both sides of the field to the 10-yard lines, (coaches will continue to be restricted from 25 to 25-yard lines), in order for more social-distancing space for teams.

- Cloth face coverings are permissible. Plastic shields covering the entire face (unless integrated into the face mask and attached to the helmet and clear without the presence of any tint) shall not be allowed during contests. 

- Only one captain from each team may be present at the coin toss with the referee and umpire. The same procedure will be utilized for overtime.

- Non-essential personnel should be restricted from the field during contests.

- Charged timeouts will be extended to a maximum of two minutes. The intermission between periods (first/second and third/fourth) as well as the time period following a try, successful field goal or safety and prior to the succeeding free kick will also be extended to a maximum of two minutes.

- If available, dressing facilities for game officials and teams should be large enough for them to use social-distancing protocols and should be properly cleaned and sanitized prior to their arrival.

Swimming and Diving

- Only one person per lane should be permitted at turning end. Provide hand sanitizer and require lap counters to clean hands and wipe down devices.

- For pre-meet conferences, decrease the number of participants or hold one conference with coaches and one meeting with captains. The referee can use P.A. system or starting system microphone to allow participants to hear but keep them properly separated.

- Establish multiple sessions for warm-up periods to limit number of swimmers per lane. Restrict the number of swimmers in competition area. Limit number of swimmers per lane during warm-up and warm-down periods. 

- Limit number of divers during warm-ups by creating multiple sessions. During competition, divers may not approach the board until their turn to compete. Hot tubs should not be permitted. Dive order sheets should be posted in multiple areas to reduce number of divers viewing at the same time. 

- Keep the teams on opposite sides of the pool and require the home team to compete in Lanes 1-3 and visitors to swim in Lanes 4-6. 

Volleyball

-For pre-meet conferences, limit attendees to one coach from each team, first referee and second referee. 

- Suspend the protocol of teams switching benches between sets. In the event there is a clear and distinct disadvantage, teams may switch sides, observing all social distancing protocols. Officials will determine if a disadvantage is present. Limit bench personnel to observe social distancing of 3 to 6 feet.

-Cloth face coverings and gloves are permissible, as are long sleeves and long pants.

- Limit essential personnel at the officials table, which includes home team scorer, libero tracker and timer with a recommend distance of 3 to 6 feet between individuals. Visiting team personnel (scorer, statisticians, etc.) are not deemed essential personnel and will need to find an alternative location. 

- Maintain social distancing of 3 to 6 feet between the second referee and the player and substitute by encouraging substitutions to occur within the substitution zone closer to the attack line.

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