Over 1,000 Arizona high school sports games canceled this week due to COVID-19
PHOENIX — Over 1,000 Arizona high school sports games have been canceled this week due to the omicron spread of COVID-19, the commissioner of officials for the Arizona Interscholastic Association said Friday.
Brian Gessner told KTAR News 92.3 FM the cancellations are coming because players are testing positive for the virus, forcing schools to pull out from competitions.
Most — about 65% — are junior varsity or freshman competitions, according to Gessner. He expects many games to not be played for at least the next couple of weeks as high daily caseloads continue to beset the state.
“These numbers are exponentially higher than last year,” Gessner said. “We’ve never seen anything like this.”
Competitions haven’t yet been canceled due to referee shortages, but Gessner noted the pandemic continues to put a strain on the profession.
He said 27 officials died last school year due to COVID-19. This year, there’s been one virus death.
Gessner added that more officials have called out sick this school year than in 2020-21.
“We’ve stopped tracking officials absences because we’ve exceeded last year,” Gessner said.
It won’t be easy to reschedule the missed games.
Some sports, like soccer, can’t have makeup games jammed in during the week because student athletes need recovery time.
Other games will be difficult to make up because of schedule conflicts as seasons near their finish.
“We’re running out of dates…it’s going to be a challenge to get those games rescheduled,” Gessner said.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this report.