Fall sports season delayed until mid-September for RI schools

High School

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Interscholastic League held a virtual news conference Wednesday to give student-athletes, parents and coaches an update on the plans for school sports in the fall.

The league sent out a notice Wednesday morning that the Principals’ Committee on Athletics voted to postpone the start date of fall sports from August 17 to September 14 so schools can focus on the start of classes.

“Although there is still uncertainty about what school will look like this fall and what Phase RI will be in, this update is meant to provide a framework regarding how high school sport decisions will be made moving forward,” RIIL Executive Director Michael P. Lunney wrote.

Lunney said a final decision on which sports will be offered in the fall will not be made until after Aug. 17, when state officials are expected to make a formal decision on whether schools will open in-person fully, partially, or not at all.

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At this time, boys and girls soccer, football, field hockey, and unified volleyball will not be able to begin their seasons in September since those sports are not allowed within Phase 3 of Gov. Gina Raimondo’s guidelines. Should that change, the league said it can add those sports back into the schedule.

In the meantime, teams can continue practices through the end of August, and as it stands, competition will begin on Friday, Oct. 2, with a six-week regular season and two-week postseason.

The league is encouraging schools to play games on weekends.

The plan specifically states that this is an unprecedented time and things can change at any moment, for any reason.

When asked what his message would be to the thousands of student-athletes waiting patiently through all of this uncertainty, Lunney said, “we’re doing everything in our power to give them those opportunities that only come around once in a lifetime.”

“Some of those decisions that we had to make back in the spring, and even at the end of the winter, were so difficult because we knew what the impact would be,” he continued. “I think what we’re trying to do is stay connected with everybody across the country. We’re trying to make the best decisions we can for our state within the situation that we’re in.”

“I just want those kids to know how important it is for them, and we’re going to do everything we can to make that happen,” Lunney added.

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