When publishing the schedules for high school sports, the disclaimer is routinely made that the schedule is subject to change. With the coronavirus pandemic, this has never been more true that it is with the 2020-21 high school sports season. As of July 19, no one can say for certain what it will look like, or if there will even be a season at all.
“We are still waiting to see how this all pans out,” Parker High Athletic Director Dan Maya told the Pioneer. “Unfortunately, it’s a fluid situation.”
The 2019-20 high school sports season came to an abrupt end in March when Gov. Doug Ducey and State School Superintendent Kathy Hoffman closed the schools for in-person classes due to the pandemic. The Arizona Interscholastic Association cancelled the remainder of the spring high school sports season soon after this.
Parker High’s baseball, softball, and track seasons had just gotten underway when the season was cancelled. The golf team had yet to play its first match.
As it stands now, the Parker Unified School District will open the 2020-21 school year Monday, Aug. 3 with distance learning. Orders from Gov. Doug Ducey and State School Superintendent Kathy Hoffman have pushed back the first day for in-person classes until Aug. 17. However, that could change.
“If the governor doesn't open schools for in-person instruction, there won’t be fall sports,” Maya said.
What effect President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos pressuring schools to open with in-person classes is not known at this time. Trump has disparaged distance learning in recent tweets on Twitter.
Parker High’s first football game is scheduled for Aug. 21 in Wickenburg. The first volleyball game is scheduled for Sept. 1 at home against Kingman Academy. On the AZPreps365 website, that Arizona Interscholastic Association stated their published schedules and guidelines are based on the premise that schools will re-open for in-person classes Aug. 17.
Some schools have already cancelled fall sports completely. According to the AzCentral website, these were the Arizona high schools that have cancelled fall sports as of July 16:
Buckeye Odyssey Institute (3A)
Kayenta Monument Valley (3A)
Fort Defiance Window Rock (3A)
Whiteriver Alchesay (2A)
Keams Canyon Hopi (2A)
Sanders Valley (2A)
Greyhills Academy (2A)
Many Farms (2A)
Shonto Prep (1A)
Rock Point (1A)
St. Michaels (1A)
These cancellations will not affect Parker High’s football team. The Odyssey Institute Minotaurs are in the Parker volleyball team’s region. They had been scheduled to play them Oct. 6 at home and Oct. 27 on the road.
The Salome High fall sports season will not be affected by these cancellations as the Frogs’ football and volleyball teams are not scheduled to play any of these schools.
Even if there is a fall sports season, Maya said it will look very different from what the 2019-20 season looked like because of new guidelines and rules resulting from the pandemic.
“The Athletic directors anticipate fall sports won’t have fans, or they will be made smaller,” Maya said. “Maybe just parents with all of the social distancing and mask guidelines. Invitational tournaments look like they will be removed from the schedule. State tournaments are trying to be salvaged, but we will have to wait to see how the State progresses.”
Maya said only time will tell just what the 2020 fall sports season will be like, as well at the entire 2020-21 high school sports season.
“We will just have to wait and see,” he said.