McFarland High School boys’ and girls’ basketball will not be competing against Rock Valley Conference schools, and the league will have no conference champions in the 2020-21 winter sports season, according to a decision reached by conference officials last Friday.
The decision comes after reports of increased cases of COVID-19 virus, which has infected more than 282,000 Wisconsin residents and killed nearly 2,400 since a pandemic was declared this past spring.
Rock Valley schools will be able to schedule non-conference games, so long as they hire the referees and conform to local and state guidelines aimed at keeping the virus under control.
The Rock Valley Conference joins the Badger and Big Eight conferences in pulling the plug on league games for the winter sports season.
McFarland boys’ hockey, boys’ swimming, the boys’ wrestling co-op with Monona Grove High School and the Icebergs, a girls’ hockey co-op with several schools including McFarland are part of the Badger Conference, and will also not play conference games.
The pandemic forced cancellation of the 2020 spring sports season, and led to the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) to allow schools the option of playing fall sports such as football, girls’ golf, girls’ tennis, girls’ swimming, boys’ soccer and boys’ and girls’ cross country in spring 2021.
After the pandemic began, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Public Health Madison Dane County (PHMDC) restricted public gatherings to 10 people or fewer and implemented guidelines on social distancing and the wearing of face masks to ward off the spread of the virus. McFarland athletic director Paul Ackley said the school board has yet to make a decision that would involve Spartan teams playing outside of Dane County in the winter season.
“The board will continue to talk about competitions at later board meetings, but right now, no decisions with regards to competitions have been made about going outside the county and participating in competitions like Marshall and Madison Edgewood did this year,” Ackley said.