The return of high school sports is right around the corner as the calendar turns to 2021.
Seven schools in the valley will be allowed to begin practice for the flag football season Saturday, with the first game scheduled for Jan. 15 between Amplus — formerly American Prep — and Slam! Nevada. Fifteen schools from the northern portion of the state are set to participate in skiing, with the first meet scheduled for Jan. 21.
While the Clark County School District announced it has canceled the winter sports season and basketball and wrestling fall on the governor’s no-play list, the NIAA sees having any sports being played as a sign of progress.
“To have flag football and skiing going, considering all that happened with the spring sports and the first semester this year, it’s fantastic,” NIAA assistant director Donnie Nelson said. “I can’t wait to get results (from flag football and skiing) and get out to see a game or a meet.”
When Amplus and Slam! Nevada take the flag football field, it will end a 10-month drought for high school sports in Nevada that began March 14.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” Amplus athletic director Tyrel Cooper said. “Being the first year for our flag football program, we’re excited to get the sport off the ground, but we’re really just looking forward to playing sports. It’s a pretty big deal for us and the whole athletic community in the state.”
The NIAA last week sent a letter to the governor’s office requesting basketball and wrestling be removed from the no-play list.
Should that happen, the valley’s private and charter schools, schools outside of Clark County and CCSD school Moapa Valley, which has been using a hybrid model of learning since the beginning of the school year, would be allowed to compete. The first basketball games could be played as early as Jan. 14 if the ban is lifted in time.
“We want to have an answer from the governor’s office sooner than later, with the official first day of practice Jan. 2,” Nelson said. “When we hear anything is anybody’s guess.”
An email to a spokesperson for Gov. Steve Sisolak seeking comment was not returned Thursday.
Nelson said the NIAA is prepared to amend the basketball and wrestling schedules however necessary should the governor grant the organization’s request. But regardless, the winter season will end Feb. 20.
The CCSD School Board is set to vote Jan. 14 on a proposed reopening plan that would return pre-kindergarten to third-grade students to classrooms first, with older students to phase in later.
How quickly that plan allows for high school students to return on campus will determine the fate of the fall and spring sports seasons for CCSD schools. But Nelson doesn’t want to look too far ahead at this point.
“We’re focused 100 percent on the winter sports season right now,” Nelson said. “We’re working through that as thoroughly and diligently as we can, and then we’ll focus on the fall sports.”