Winter high school sports in Arizona back on after flipped AIA vote

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One flipped vote was all it took for Arizona to get its winter high school sports back.

After voting to cancel winter high school sports in the state last week, Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) board member Jim Love changed his vote to allow schools to participate in winter sports if they choose to, flipping the vote 5-4 in favor of moving forward with a winter high school sports season.

RELATED: Arizona cancels high school winter sports among COVID-19 surge

According to the AIA, the winter high school sports season will now begin on Jan. 18 — the date the board originally pushed the season back to in November. Masks will be required to be worn by athletes during competition and schools are required to fill out and exchange COVID-19 monitoring forms prior to games. Two parents or guardians per student-athlete are allowed to attend their children’s’ home games.

The AIA’s original vote to cancel winter high school sports was met with harsh criticism. AIA executive director David Hines said the 5-4 vote to cancel sports led to harassment and even threats directed at AIA board members. The AIA’s original vote was influenced by a recommendation from its Sports Medicine Advisory Committee saying that winter high school sports should be canceled due to the state’s rising COVID-19 numbers.

As of Jan. 12, Arizona had reported more coronavirus deaths in the last eight days (1,418) than it did the entire month of July (1,401). As of Jan. 11, the state had the highest rate per capita nationally for COVID-19 deaths and second-highest rate for cases over the last seven days, per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

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