Sports games

More than 1,000 Arizona high school sports games canceled this week due to COVID-19

PHOENIX — More than 1,000 Arizona high school sports games have been canceled this week due to the omicron spread of COVID-19, the Arizona Interscholastic Association Commissioner of Officials said Friday.

Brian Gessner said KTAR News 92.3 FM cancellations are coming because players test positive for the virus, forcing schools to withdraw from competitions.

Most — about 65% — are junior or freshman college competitions, according to Gessner. He expects many games to go unplayed for at least the next two weeks as the high daily workload continues to plague the state.

“These numbers are exponentially higher than last year,” Gessner said. “We have never seen anything like it.”

The competitions have not yet been canceled due to the shortage of referees, but Gessner noted that the pandemic continues to strain the profession.

He said 27 civil servants died last year due to COVID-19. This year, there was one death due to the virus.

Gessner added that more public servants have called in sick this school year than in 2020-21.

“We stopped tracking officials’ absences because we overshot last year,” Gessner said.

Rescheduling missed matches will not be easy.

Some sports, such as football, cannot have catch-up games during the week because student-athletes need recovery time.

Other games will be difficult to catch up with due to scheduling conflicts as the seasons draw to a close.

“We’re running out of dates… it’s going to be a challenge to reschedule those games,” Gessner said.

Griselda Zetino of KTAR News 92.3 FM contributed to this report.

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