WIAA planning for fall season, but things could change

The WIAA's deputy director said the high school sports organization is planning to start football practice in early August.
Posted at 9:24 PM, Jun 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-04 23:52:31-04

STEVENS POINT, Wis. (NBC 26) -- The WIAA's deputy director said the organization is planning to start its high school football season in early August, but things could change.

Wade Labecki said the WIAA has been working closely with health experts to determine the fate of its fall season. He notes that information surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic changes on a day to day basis.

"We're planning on football starting on August 4," Labecki said. "The experts in the medical area may change our options. They're experts in that. We're getting ready to be ready for that. We're getting ready to assist our schools."

Labecki said he is optimistic for a fall season and wants to give student athletes hope, but also notes a return may not be possible.

"We're not going to go ahead and put kids in jeopardy or coaches in jeopardy or officials in jeopardy," he said. "We're going to do what's best based on advice from our sports medical people."

Then comes the question of finances. The WIAA lost out on its most profitable postseason when the boys and girls basketball tournaments were canceled at the start of the pandemic. A year without football would spell more trouble.

"We don't make a lot of money but football covers that fall season," Labecki said. "So if you lose fall you won't be able to pay for the salaries and for the other sports in the fall."

But he reiterated the WIAA, which is a non-profit, is putting health first.

"We would like to get the fall in," he said. "But we're not going to do it if it's not safe and healthy."