Winter Season Still on Track After Murphy Lifts Indoor Sports Ban
Organized indoor sports will be allowed to resume on Saturday, Governor Phil Murphy announced as part of his Wednesday COVID-19 press conference, keeping the scheduled start dates of winter high school sports on track at the moment.
Murphy suspended indoor sports with an executive order on Dec. 5 and the executive order was set to run out at the end of this week.
The lifting of the suspension still requires strict protocols be followed when conducting organized indoor sporting events, including the prohibition of fans from attending when the total number of players, coaches and officials exceeds 10.
The only scholastic sport impacted by the initial indoor sports ban was ice hockey, which will be begin with practices on Jan. 3 and with the first day of games set for Jan. 15. Murphy also announced an extension of the ban on interstate youth hockey competition though at least Jan. 31, in conjunction with governors from six other states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire).
All other high school sports scheduled for the staggered winter season remain on track to start as scheduled. Basketball, bowling and fencing will open with practices on Jan. 11 and games on Jan. 26, followed by swimming and winter track and field on Feb. 1 (practice) and Feb. 16 (competition).
Wrestling, gymnastics and girls volleyball will begin practices on March 1 and competition on March 16, with gymnastics and volleyball being moved from the fall season to the final stage of the winter season.
“NJSIAA welcomes the governor’s announcement and continued support, and looks forward to the beginning of the indoor, winter, scholastic sports season - specifically, NJSIAA season 2," the NJSIAA said in a statement. “Occupancy restrictions will remain in effect as established by the governor’s Executive Orders. And, of course, public health data still may impact our upcoming seasons, so it’s essential that we all continue supporting the 3 W's - wear your masks, watch your distance, and wash your hands.”