On Wednesday, January 21, the Alabama High School Athletic Association Central Board of Control approved the AHSAA’s Return to Play ‘Best Practices’ recommended guidelines for spring sports while approving winter sports championship health and safety modifications due to COVID restrictions.
The Spring Sports ‘Return to Play ‘Best Practices’ follow the most recent Alabama Department of Public Health and AHSAA Medical Advisory Board recommendations for sports such as boys and girls’ tennis, soccer, outdoor track, golf, baseball and softball.
The winter sports playoff modifications are necessary due to current health and safety regulations that restrict venue attendance to no more than 20 percent of capacity. As with the fall sports championships, GoFan’s digital ticketing plan will manage the ticket limitations at each venue and require tickets to playoff events to be purchased digitally.
Among the winter sports championship play changes was establishing a second sub-regional round for the basketball playoffs at the site of one of the participating schools in lieu of playing regional semifinals at region tournament sites. Region finals will be played at regional sites.
The state basketball championships will begin February 26 and run through March 6. The BJCC Legacy Arena is currently undergoing renovations and will not be available in 2021. The state semifinals and finals will be played at one of two venues being used, Bill Harris Arena at the Birmingham CrossPlex and UAB’s Bartow Arena.
Indoor Track competition will remain a two-day event at the Birmingham CrossPlex on February 5-6. However, the four divisions will complete their meets in one day over the two-day period and all events will run as finals.
The AHSAA state wrestling traditional championships were moved to two weekends and at three sites, while the super sectional meets were eliminated. The sites will be Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery for Class 1A/4A and the Bill Harris Arena for Class 7A on February 12-13. The Class 5A/6A championships will be held at Huntsville’s Von Braun Center on February 18-20.
The wrestling duals finals will be held on Friday, January 22 at Bill Harris Arena with the Class 7A finals at 12 p.m., Class 5A/6A finals at 3 p.m. and Class 1A/4A finals at 6 p.m.
Bowling regional tournaments were backed up a week and will be held at Vestavia Hills for the North Region and Spanish Fort for the South Region on Thursday and Friday, January 21-22. The state bowling championships return to Pelham’s Oak Mountain Lanes on January 28-29. The format has changed due to attendance restrictions. Each division will complete its championship in a one-day session.
“The purpose of the ‘Return to Play Spring Sports’ document and the winter sports championship play modifications have always been to offer AHSAA member schools the best recommendations possible to provide more opportunities for student-athletes and schools to participate,” said AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese.
In other action, the central board approved the 2020 Super 7 Audit; approved expenses for the 2021 state basketball tournament; approved the 2020 region and state volleyball championships financial reports; approved the 2020 cross country and state swimming financial reports; reviewed football playoff comparison financials; approved the Families First Corona Virus Response Act (FFCRA) extension until March 31, 2021; and approved a motion instructing AHSAA staff members to explore the possibility of implementing the sport of flag football for females.