PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- The Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) decided Tuesday to reverse their decision to cancel winter sports for the 2021 season for high schools students. 

The vote Tuesday came down to a 5-4 vote with the majority voting to bring back winter sports. The plan is for sports to start the week of January 18 with a COVID-19 mandate in place, making sure that students can play sports and be able to stay healthy. 

Here are some of the requirements of the mandate from AIA:

  • All students, coaches and officials will be required to wear a cloth mask or gaiter for the entirety of a game/contest.
  • Each school will complete the AIA COVID-19 Athlete/Coach Monitoring Form the day of all games/contests and provide a copy to the opposing school prior to the contest.
  • Up to two parents or legal guardians may attend their student-athlete's home games as allowed by the school and county guidelines.
  • Any school that violates any of the mandatory modifications, including the COVID-19 Return to Play Form, will lose access to AIA officiating.

The change of plans was due to a backlash after the AIA voted 5-4 on Friday to cancel winter sports for the season due to COVID-19 concerns. Many of the students were upset because many are high school students who rely on sports to help them either get a scholarship or find a school. 

“This has been a very challenging situation. While we all desire to have our high school students in school and participate in interscholastic sports and activities, we feel it is imperative to consider the recommendations of medical professionals based on their expertise. Reinstating the winter season poses a risk to the healthcare system, which could impact students who may be injured. We believe that these additional modifications will serve to mitigate this risk as much as possible. Our member schools and families must understand how critical it is to adhere completely to all modifications," that was said in a joint statement from AIA's executive board. 

The special board meeting was also due to a petition that circled around with people objecting to the cancelation. The season was originally planned to start on January 18th and run through March 1st. Parents and high school athletes celebrated the reversal decision. 

"Oh my God, it was the best feeling in the world," said Pinnacle High School soccer player Briana Ramsey. "We had absolutely nothing. It was horrible, but having it back on is such a relief."

"Definitely give them credit for listening to people," said parent Courtney Bucks. "I know students sent a petition and there was overwhelming response to keep the kids playing, so I really appreciate that they saw a positive thing to reconsider."

Horizon High School senior Cory Busch is more than relieved to get her final soccer season back. “I have my little sister on the team with me so I was just very, very excited that they’re gonna go through and let us have our season again,” she said.

But not everyone is on the same page. One Bullhead City mother spoke with Arizona’s Family under condition of anonymity because she worries her kids will be shunned at school for her speaking out. She worries now that everyone’s kids will be pressured to go back to practice.

“[It’s the] completely wrong decision by the AIA,” she said. “I can say from personal experience as someone who got [COVID-19], knowing many, many families out here who caught [COVID-19] from sports, it is going to continue to spread and cause an even larger problem.”

Karina Bohn ASU’s Global Sport Institute says the decision has been a different roller coaster ride for everyone, and the back-and-forth of it all makes it hard for athletes to plan for the unknown.

“That roller coaster just flipped. People that were previously happy are now sad, people that were sad are now happy,” Bohn said. “When you don’t know what’s going to be happening, and then there’s all these starts and stops, that could impact you. That could impact your training, that could impact injuries, that could impact recovery time.”


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