Delay of games: CHSAA pushes winter sports back

Peaking COVID-19 leads state, sports association to deny variances


The start of winter sports programs in Colorado won’t be until Feb. 1 at the earliest. The Colorado High School Activities Association made that announcement Dec. 7.

CHSAA was in consultation with the Colorado Department of Public Health and environment until late Dec. 6. A statement from CHSAA assistant Commissioner Bert Borgmann said the delay to winter sports will affect the proposed spring sports calendar.

In a letter, the state health department told CHSAA Commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green that the winter sports season would not start on time, nor would there be any variances to state-sponsored sports.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reached an all-time high in terms of disease transmission both in Colorado and around the nation,” said the letter from Jill Hunsaker Rye, executive director of the CDPHE. “The Colorado School of Public Health estimates that one in 40 Coloradans are currently infectious. Hospital admissions are steadily increasing, and the past six weeks have produced a significant increase in the number of deaths statewide. With the Thanksgiving holiday just behind us and the impending December holiday festivities, we are very concerned that the rate of transmission will continue to increase.”

The state health department isn’t sure what test rates and virus spread will look like after the Christmas holidays. The health department’s letter said high-school sports activities are dependent on local restrictions. In some cases, no indoor group sports can take place.
“In addition, our top goal for the new year is to support a return to in-person learning,” said Rye’s letter to CHSAA. “Season B sports are conducted mainly indoors during the colder months, which reduces the ability to assure social distancing. This, in turn, may further promote disease transmission at a time when we need to ensure that students and teachers are protected and that in-person learning is the highest priority.”

CHSAA is proposing a Feb. 1 start date for Season B sports. Borgmann’s press release said CHSAA, the health department and the state’s COVID response team are planning to meet in mid-January to talk about variances and reassess coronavirus data at that time.

Specifics for each sport will be communicated upon variance approval from the CDPHE. County health departments and school districts will determine open gym policies, per state guidance.


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