High School football, competitive cheerleading and volleyball are on hold until March, 2021.
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association made the long awaited decision on Wednesday, Sept. 9 to postpone so called “high-risk” fall sports until this spring.
Practice for low and moderate risk sports — tennis, cross country, golf, swimming/diving, soccer and field hockey — can begin on Sept. 21. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, while giving the go ahead for those sports, did give the individual districts the option to cancel the fall athletic season if they choose. As of Thursday, Sept. 10, all local districts are going ahead with the fall season.
Athletes participating in what is being called “Fall Season II” sports can begin practicing on March 1, 2021. Practice for spring sports — including lacrosse, baseball and softball — was pushed back to April 19, 2021 from March 15.
“We’ve spent two days speaking with nearly 500 athletic directors across the state and it’s clear that administering high-risk fall sports during the COVID-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge for our member schools,” said Dr. Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA executive director. “These are unprecedented times and unfortunately, difficult decisions will have to be made to address this ongoing crisis. We continue to stay committed to providing support to our member schools and quality participation experiences for the students we serve.”
The COVID-19 infection rate in New York has hovered around 1 percent for the last month — one of the lowest infection rates in the nation. According to Football Scoop, an online publication focusing on high school and collegiate football, 34 states will allow high school football this fall and many have already started. One article states there have been 1,000 high school football games played this season without one case of COVID-19.
“The NYSPHSAA officers have determined it would be unrealistic to host football, volleyball and competitive cheer seasons this fall,” said Julie Bergman, NYSPHSAA president. “This continues to be the most challenging situation educators have ever addressed. I, along with my fellow officers, believe the participation experiences for football, volleyball and competitive cheer athletes will be more beneficial in the spring than in the fall.”
Once the season starts this fall, the low risk sports can play only teams within their respective regions or those contiguous. The Capital District region includes Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga, Rensselaer, Washington, Warren, Columbia and Greene counties.
There will not be regional or state championships for fall sports.
Many athletes play more than one sport during different seasons and it is not clear what happens if a student plays lacrosse and football. If forced to choose, it will have a detrimental impact on many programs.
Practice for winter sports — basketball, wrestling, volleyball and hockey — according to a 49-page document released by NYSPHAA, is tentatively slated to begin on Nov. 30.