LATHAM, N.Y. (WROC) — High-risk fall sports will no longer be able to play in 2020.
The NYSPHAA announced on Wednesday evening football, volleyball, and competitive cheerleading will be moved to what is now called Fall Sports Season II. The second fall sports season will begin on March 1, 2021 and likely conclude by May 1, 2021 to reduce overlap with the regular spring sports season. All state-sponsored championships for fall sports, including for the delayed high-risk sports, are still canceled.
Traditional spring sports will now begin their season on April 19, 2021, and are scheduled to play until mid-June. That date could be extended even further depending on the state’s Regents exams.
Low and moderate risk fall sports will be still be able to begin practice on September 21. All of those fall sports must host 10 practices before they can compete. Gymnastics will require 12 practices before they are able to attend meets. If Fall Sports Season I is canceled early, there is the possibility for it to resume with football, volleyball, and cheerleading in Fall Sports Season II.
The decision to postpone the high-risk fall sports seasons came after NYSPHAA Executive Director Dr. Robert Zayas met with nearly 500 athletic directors across the state. Many posed questions and concerns about the safety of those athletes, which prompted Zayas to move the sports to the spring.
“We’ve been in contact with state officials for a number of months and they’ve been very helpful, but the guidance we received from the Department of Health stated that a decision or an authorization of high risk fall sports would come prior to December 31,” said Zayas. “We understand our member schools have concerns addressing any sports, especially those high risk sports. Those are some of the reasons we looked at as justification and rationale for making this decision today.”
Coaches can host off-season conditioning workouts for the high-risk sports beginning September 21, as long as they follow the Department of Health’s guidelines of low to no physical contact. Those workouts must also be open to the entire student body and not be mandatory for players.
Guidance for mask-wearing and social distancing in high school sports are the same as what has been mandated at the youth level. If students cannot maintain six feet of social distance, they must wear masks. If they cannot tolerate the face covering during physical activity, it may not be worn.
No decisions have been made yet about the high risk winter sports — basketball, ice hockey, and wrestling. Winter and spring sports championships are still on as scheduled for now.