No high school football in North Carolina this fall is the decision the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) announced Wednesday, Aug. 12.

The NCHSAA had delayed the start of football practice several times but, with most schools in the state starting the year with virtual classes, delaying the season makes sense and it’s not only football but all fall sports have been delayed.

The current plan is for football practice to begin on Feb. 8 and for the high school teams to play seven games between Feb. 26 and April 9.

No definite plans have been made for playoffs, but the NCHSSA plans to have them.

The first sports to start practicing will be cross country and volleyball on Nov. 4 with the season running from Nov. 16 to Jan. 8.

Swimming and diving will start practice on Nov. 23, the first meet will be Dec. 7 and the 10 meet regular season will end Jan. 30.

Basketball teams will hold their first practice on Dec. 7 and play their first games on Jan. 4 with the regular season ending Feb. 19. Teams will play 14 games with a maximum of two games per week.

Lacrosse and men’s soccer will start practice on Jan. 11, play the first game on Jan. 25 and the 14 game regular season will end on March 12.

Golf, men’s tennis, women’s soccer and softball will all start practice on March 1, play the first game March 15 and end the 14 game regular season on April 30.

Baseball, women’s tennis, track and field, and wrestling will hold the first practice on April 12, first contest on April 26 and the 14 game regular season will end on June 11.

One of the problems for high schools is going to be handling the two and three sport athletes who will have overlapping seasons.

Playing football in the midst of winter is going to be a real challenge for teams that don’t have lighted practice fields. The fact that grass doesn’t grow very well in winter is also likely to be a problem particularly later in the season after the fields have seen a few games.

NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker in a statement on the new schedule said, “Please keep in mind that these proposed dates are dependent on COVID-19 conditions improving across NC. However, last night the Board of Directors approved a framework we believe maximizes the opportunities for students in our membership to participate in athletics at some point during the school year.”

She said, “We recognize that this is a lot of information to digest and drastically different from the way the sports calendar has been aligned for years in North Carolina.”

She added, “However, as we mentioned many weeks ago, ‘We will play again.’ In that mantra, we believe, and it is in that spirit that we present this calendar. It is the belief of the Board of Directors and our staff that this calendar provides us the greatest chance of providing interscholastic athletic opportunities to the students of NCHSAA for the 2020-2021 academic year. We believe that this is the best path forward to a safe return to the field.”