Football, classified as a high-risk sport, is scheduled to start in the spring, but the county’s COVID-19 transmission rate must be less than 25 cases per 100,000 people — also true for basketball. (File photo)

Basketball, football and wrestling face highest hurdle

RENTON ­— The rules for returning to sports are once again updated.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association last week issued a fresh form of its return-to-play guidelines for high school sports following Gov. Jay Inslee’s release of new guidance on education-based sports and other outdoor activities. 

Whether teams return to action will depend on coronavirus infection rates by county and the prospect varies by the risk category of each sport.

Sports have been categorized as low-risk, moderate-risk or high-risk.

Tennis, swim and dive, golf, cross country and track and field are all deemed low-risk.

Competition in sports in the low-risk category may begin even if the transmission rate of COVID-19 in a county is high (a 14-day case rate of more than 75 per 100,000 people). 

Softball, baseball, soccer and volleyball are considered moderate-risk and competition may begin if the 14-day transmission rate is between 25 and 75 per 100,000. The positive test rate in the county must also be less than 5%.

High-risk sports are football, wrestling, basketball and cheerleading with contact.

Competition for high-risk sports requires a low transmission rate in the county, which has been set as less than 25 cases per 100,000, along with a positive test rate of less than 5%. 

“These revised guidelines give greater flexibility to school administrators to offer education-based athletics and activities and meet the demand of their students and communities,” the WIAA said in a press release. 

Also stated in the release was that the governor’s office has informed the WIAA these guidelines must be followed and local schools and organizations do not have the authority to implement more lenient rules.

These new guidelines provide the greatest chance for sports in the low- and moderate-risk categories to happen this spring, but keep uncertainty in the air for high-risk sports such as football, basketball and wrestling.