AIA reverses decision, winter sports to move forward January 18

File Photo By Stan Bonifacio: Jejdrique Chavez posterizes T.J. Reed on a dunk after a steal in the fourth period of Safford’s 63-61 victory over rival Thatcher last year. The AIA reversed its earlier decision and voted 5-4 on Tuesday to proceed with winter sports, starting Jan. 18.

By Jon Johnson

PHOENIX – After a grassroots movement against the Arizona Interscholastic Association was started in response to its decision to cancel winter sports, the AIA’s Executive Board met again on Tuesday and reversed its earlier decision with a 5-4 vote. 

With the vote, the winter sports season – including basketball, wresting, and soccer – can proceed starting Jan. 18. 

Safford Athletic Director and AIA Executive Board President Toni Corona ran a Zoom meeting and spoke candidly at the end about the situation.

“Today, very difficult decisions were made and rendered,” Corona said. “And I implore and ask our schools and our families and our athletic directors – it is disheartening to hear and receive survey and feedback as board members that our schools and our families and our communities they want so badly to participate and play, but yet they push aside those mitigations and protocols that we have worked together on by numerous entities and put in place for the safety and protection of our kids so they can continue. So, moving forward, whether you are in the opinion and agreement of moving forward or any of the motions and mitigations that have been put in place today, I implore the schools and families to please move forward with integrity and understanding . . . All was done in the best interest of our students and to provide that opportunity which our membership asked for.”  

During a Jan. 7 meeting, the board had voted 5-4 in favor of canceling winter sports.

As it is currently approved, masks must be worn by all – even those who are playing on the court, mat, or field – and no fans will be allowed with the exception of only two parents (or guardians) per athlete per home team if state and local guidelines permit the attendance number.

AIA Executive Director David Hines expressed his gratitude to the board for their diligence.

“As we move forward, we’re asking our membership to follow suit – asking the public to adhere to and follow the modifications and the requirements that we put into place,” Hines said. “Bottom line, we’re trying to help kids.”

Media members will have to receive permission from the home site’s athletic directors to cover games.