ALBEMARLE — While high school athletes across the state eagerly await the resumption of their sports seasons, they can now rest a little easier with the knowledge of when (and how) their postseasons will operate.
On Sept. 8, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association released the playoff dates and formats for all sports.
With a 50% reduction in the number of postseason-qualifying teams, the majority of sports will see their playoff formats decrease by one round. For example, football playoffs will consist of two 16-team tournaments — the winners of those brackets will square off in a state championship matchup set for May 8.
The playoff rankings system for schools will be amended from what it has previously been.
Teams will be matched in correlation with their placing in their respective conferences. In the past, the seeding structure for teams in the playoffs has been configured by computerized rankings and winning percentage.
With the new format, some matchups might be formed that wouldn’t normally transpire — for example, two of the best teams in the state could meet in the first round of the playoffs.
The NCHSAA also announced new guidelines for the number of people allowed at games and practices, both of which are in line with the state’s official protocols. For indoor gatherings, a maximum of 25 people will be allowed to congregate; 50 people will be able to attend outdoor gatherings. Both updated measures are an increase from the previously stated limits of 10 and 25 people, respectively.
“We are looking forward to fully resuming sports in November,” NCHSAA commissioner Que Tucker said in a press release. “As always, we will continue to monitor health and safety guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“Administrators and coaches must emphasize the need for all coaches and participants who have signs or symptoms of illness to stay home to decrease risk of viral transmission, as they may transmit the virus to vulnerable individuals.”
In chronological order, the state championship dates for high school sports are as follows: cross-country and volleyball (Jan. 23), swimming and diving (Feb. 10-13), basketball (March 6), soccer and lacrosse (March 27), football (May 8), golf (May 10-11), and men’s tennis and softball (May 14-15).
The state championship dates for the remaining sports are as follows: baseball, women’s tennis, and track and field (June 25-26), and wrestling (June 26).