The National Federation of State High School Associations took a look at athletics across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to NFHS Executive Director Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff’s report, 21 states have yet to start regular season basketball games and 38 states have made modifications to their wrestling seasons.

In Vermont, skills and drills practices have been underway for more than two weeks at some schools, but schools are waiting for word on full-contact practices and games.

Wrestling and indoor track and field will not be allowed in Vermont this winter, but in wrestling’s case, there has been significant effort to salvage a season from coaches across the state.

According to the NFHS study, 35 states participated in football this fall. A pair of states are still wrapping up their football seasons as Texas (Jan. 14-16) and Michigan (Jan. 22-23) crown state champions this month.

Most of the other 16 states have starting dates for football in February or March and seven of these 16 states have yet to play any sports this year.

Vermont ran a 7-on-7, touch football season this fall, breaking the state into four regions and crowning a quartet of regional champions.

Other states are providing a chance to compete through esports and flag football for girls.

Eighteen state associations are now offering esports programs through the NFHS Network and PlayVS, and interest has been building due to the addition of FIFA 21 and Madden NFL 21 as game titles for the 2021 esports season – the first sports titles to be offered through the NFHS Network-PlayVS partnership.

State associations in Florida, Georgia, Alaska and Nevada have implemented programs for girls and Alabama is involved in discussions to add the sport this year.

The Georgia High School Association conducted its first GHSA Flag Football Championship last month and about 90 schools were involved in the first year of sanctioned competition.

COLLEGES

NAC axes season

WATERVILLE, Maine — The North Atlantic Conference Presidents’ Council announced on Monday they were canceling regular and postseason basketball games this winter.

The NAC, which is the home of Northern Vermont-Lyndon and NVU-Johnson, decided a season wasn’t feasible with members spread across three states.

In the fall, the conference developed tentative plans to begin conference basketball games Jan. 29, but that date was then pushed back after several institutions adjusted dates for the start of second semester.

The NAC is allowing schools autonomy to play games at their own discretion.

The first official NAC Swimming & Diving Championship has been postponed until next winter. The first-ever NAC swimming & diving event, a virtual invitational, is slated for March 13-14, 2021.

The five sponsoring institutions plan to compete either regionally or in their own campus pools and combine results virtually to determine overall event winners and team champions. A traditional three-day championship is planned for February 4-6, 2022.

Presidents previously endorsed plans for playing traditional fall sports on a smaller scale throughout the spring semester.

Fall sports in the NAC include men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s golf, and women’s tennis.

Though men’s golf and women’s tennis are typically conducted in the fall at the conference level, they are spring NCAA championship sports. As a result, NAC championships are planned for this spring in those two sports.

Previously approved spring sport schedules and championships remain in place while contingency planning is underway in the event adjustments are needed. Presidents will reconvene in mid-to-late February to determine if changing course is needed for swimming & diving, fall, or spring sports.

Eligible student athletes in all sports benefit from a blanket waiver in Division III this year.

They will not be charged with a season of participation, regardless of the level of practices or games that do occur throughout the year. Student athletes also have two extra semesters to take advantage of extended eligibility.

HOCKEY

UVM, Maine off

WAKEFIELD, Mass. — The Hockey East Association announced on Wednesday that the women’s series between Maine and Vermont on Friday and Saturday will not be played as scheduled.

The UVM women are back in action on Jan. 29 and 30 when they host Northeastern at Gutterson Fieldhouse.

The Catamounts have the best winning percentage in the league and are fourth in points, behind Providence, Boston College and the Huskies.

Follow on Twitter: @AAucoin_RH

adam.aucoin@rutlandherald.com

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