New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association officials have decided there will be a fall sports season for high school athletes in the state. The fall season will be shorter than usual and will be for outdoor sports only. The fall season will include football, cross country running, field hockey, girls tennis, and soccer.
Competitions will be local, and out-of-state competition will be prohibited unless a waiver is granted for exceptional circumstances. Post-season play will be limited to local games. There will be no statewide championships.
Students participating in fall sports can begin practice with coaches no earlier than Sept. 14. Girls tennis will begin competition on Sept. 28. Cross country, field hockey, and soccer will begin competition on Oct. 1, and the opening day for the football will be Friday, Oct. 2.
Gymnastics and girls volleyball, which are normally indoor fall sports, will be moved to a new, special season that will begin with practices on Feb. 16 and competition on March 3.
Officials said if circumstances change and it is not possible to have a fall season, outdoor fall sports will also be played during the special season in the early spring.
Winter sports teams can begin practicing on Dec. 3. Winter sport competitions will begin on Dec. 21.
The timeline for the spring sports season will be announced at a later date.
Details about fall and winter sports schedules in the state are included in the four-page Return-to-Sports Plan, which was created by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Sports Advisory Task Force.
All dates are subject to change based on guidance from the Governor and the New Jersey Department of Health, officials said, adding that task force goals included ensuring health and safety, promoting participation and not championships, limiting travel, and staying flexible in the face of changing circumstances.
“Our kids need structured activity, and we believe that education-based high school sports is the best way to provide it,” said Colleen Maguire, chief operating officer of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. “Giving teenagers extra motivation to stay Covid-free promotes healthy outcomes for everyone.”