The Alaska School Activities Association announced in a Monday news release that all 2020 spring events, championships, regular season contests and practices for high school sports are canceled.

The sports affected include track and field, soccer, softball and baseball.

“A lot of people, myself included, really feel bad for (the student-athletes) ...  and not just for the seniors,” ASAA executive director Billy Strickland said over the phone on Monday.

“A lot of times a kid may only come to a state tournament once in their four year career, so I think anybody on a team this year was impacted. But I believe that the right decision is being made for the right reasons and we believe the students understand that as well.”

The decision follows Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s Friday statewide mandate in response to COVID-19, which suspends student attendance at all private and public schools, including after school activities, until May 1.

For safety reasons, ASAA bylaws require students to have completed 10 practices prior to their first contest. Assuming the best case, but far from certain scenario, in which school activities do resume on May 1, athletic contests couldn’t begin until mid May, leaving only a few weeks for a season.

“We owe it to our coaches and players and their families for them to understand that it just wasn’t going to happen this spring. 

“We didn’t want to postpone it when it was pretty clear that the earliest we would have been able to have activities would have been something like May 15,” Strickland added.

With spring sports canceled, fall sports would be the next domino to fall. Strickland is hoping to have more information from the Alaska Department of Health by the end of May to help guide any decision pertaining to the fall season.

Although he says any decision regarding fall sports at this time would be premature, given the present number of unknowns, cancellation is not out of the question.

“One of the things to take from this is not to take anything for granted, so we will plan to have fall activities and so forth, but by no means do we say that is just something we should assume.”

Contact News-Miner sports writer Laura Stickells at 459-7530. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMsports.