TOMS RIVER, NJ – There is some bad news and some good news when it comes to fall sports in New Jersey. Some will happen. Some are canceled and will be part of a new “4th season” later this year. The good news is, not all sports have been canceled.
Thursday, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s (NJSIAA) Sports Advisory Task Force released its Return-to-Sports Plan, which provides detailed schedules for fall and winter sports. The dates for the spring sports season will be announced at a later date; the task force recognizes the need to maximize the spring season due to the loss of the season last school year.
The outdoor fall sports – football, cross country, field hockey, girls tennis and soccer – will begin practice on September 14. Girls tennis will begin competition on September 28. Cross country, field hockey and soccer will begin competition on October 1, and opening day for the football season will be Friday, October 2.
The indoor fall sports – gymnastics and girls volleyball – will be moved to a new, special season that will begin with practices on February 16 and competition on March 3. If circumstances change, and we are unable to have a fall season, the outdoor fall sports will also be played at this time.
Winter sports teams may begin practicing on December 3. Winter sport competition will begin on December 21.
All of these dates are subject to change based on guidance from the Governor and Department of Health.
The Sports Advisory Task Force was guided by a set of principles that take into account the unique circumstances that we all are living through. Their goals were to ensure health and safety; promote participation, not championships; limit travel; and stay flexible in the face of changing circumstances.
With these principles in mind, schedules will be condensed, competition will be local, out-of-state competition will be prohibited (unless a waiver is granted for exceptional circumstances), and post-season play will be limited and local, with no statewide championships.
“We’re extremely appreciative of the support and guidance from Governor Phil Murphy, Senator Paul Sarlo and Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly,” said NJSIAA COO, Colleen Maguire, “Our kids need structured activity, and we believe that education-based high school sports is the best way to provide it. Giving teenagers extra motivation to stay Covid-free promotes healthy outcomes for everyone.”