Start of H.S. winter sports season remains paused

Gov. Scott: " We just don’t want to pay the price for making the wrong move now.”
Published: Dec. 18, 2020 at 9:56 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - For the fourth straight week, Governor Phil Scott began his Friday news conference with the announcement that the start of the high school winter sports season, as well as allowing the resumption of recreational club sports, remains on hold.

The Vermont Principals’ Association has set a January 11th date for when games or contests in high school winter sports may begin, but the Governor’s announcement Friday, pushing the start date for when teams can begin practicing until next week at the very earliest, puts that start date in jeopardy. Bob Johnson of the VPA told Channel Three Sports Friday afternoon that a taskforce will meet on Monday to discuss the status of that January 11th start date.

As for the Governor’s decision to keep the pause in effect, Scott said it remains about monitoring the elevated number of new COVID cases as to when the call to allow winter sports will be made, even though he agrees with the importance of getting kids back in the game.

“This is one of my highest priorities, outside of making sure the vaccinations get to long-term care facilities, is getting kids back acclimated to a normal life.”, says Scott.

“And I think recreational sports is important to kids, their emotional well-being, as well as to adults. So we’re working our way towards that. We just don’t want to pay the price for making the wrong move now, as I said on Tuesday, and I hope that we continue to at least stay where we are today, under 100 (new COVID cases), and if we can do that consistently, I believe we can open sports up for those in our education system.”

And while the start of the high school winter season remains on hold, the UVM basketball and hockey teams are set to begin their seasons this weekend, with the UVM women’s hoop and hockey teams hosting games at Patrick Gym and Gutterson Fieldhouse Saturday and Sunday.

While some have questioned why the University of Vermont teams are being allowed to play games when high school winter sports athletes have yet to be allowed to begin practicing, state officials explained that the increased guidelines UVM has in place, like testing multiple times per week and teams isolating themselves, have created the opportunity for the Cats to compete.

“They have the ability to test for more frequently than we do, say at the club or high school or middle school sports level.”, says Vermont Agency of Commerce Secretary Lindsey Kurrle.

“It enabled us to give them a broader ability to compete. They had another element of agreement, really saying that they would step up and do the right thing, to do everything they could to value this opportunity to compete at this time.”

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