LATHAM, N.Y. (WROC) — The New York Public High School Athletic Association announced that fall sports in New York have been delayed and will start no sooner than September 21st. The NYPHSAA also canceled regional and state tournaments for fall sports.
“As the state considers reopening, it is unrealistic to believe athletic seasons can start on August 24th as originally scheduled,” said NYPHSAA President Paul Harrica in a press release. “The priority will continue to be on the educational process and a return to learning in the safest way possible.”
The NYPHSAA hopes to begin fall sports on September 21st, but is prepared to implement a condensed seasons plan if fall sports can not take place in 2020.
That schedule would have winter sports take place from January 4th-March 13th, fall sports would occur from March 1st-May 8th, and spring sports would be played from April 5th-June 12th. These dates are tentative at this time.
There is no timetable for when the decision will be made on which plan to pursue.
Athletes could be allowed to compete in two sports at the same time. That decision will be left up to individual sections and school districts. It could be a headache, but it’s likely the best way to accomplish the primary goal of state administrators.
“Give the opportunity to participate for every student athlete in every sport,” said NYSPHSAA Executive Director Dr. Robert Zayas. “Will choices have to be made? Unfortunately, that’s probably going to take place. I think that’s a much better alternative than having students have to be told, as we did back in March, that their season was completely canceled.”
Zayas reiterated something he’s been saying since the work to restart high school sports began months ago. The state priority is to re-open schools and learning. Sports have to come second.
High school teams can conduct their regularly scheduled summer camps, but everything else is on hold for now.
While there is a plan for what three seasons in six months would look like, those plans will be flexible. If the seasons can be expanded in any way, that will be explored. While it might be hard to include a state playoff for a ten week season, Zayas would not close the door on that idea Thursday.
“If we’ve learned anything over the course of the last four or five months, it’s to try not to predict what’s going to happen next week or next month,” Zayas said. “I think today’s announcement is a perfect example of how we’re going to have to proceed, not just over the course of the next month, but possibly the next year.”
Getting the green light to begin sports is one thing. The next big part is making them functional in a Covid-19 world. Zayas said that plan has been extensively discussed, but is “ever evolving”.
It’s also possible some lower risk fall sports (ie. swimming, golf, tennis) could begin September 21st and the rest are moved to the spring. If any fall sports cannot be played in the fall, the plan would be to institute the condensed three season start to 2021.
JV and modified sports would be restricted from happening in the fall just like their varsity counterparts. Each district could then decide what lower level teams they want to field in the spring.
If schools re-open on time and if the plan for learning in a pandemic world goes smoothly enough, then sports could begin in late September. Zayas said that’s, primarily, the reason for the initial four week delay.
Should that delay extend to four-plus months, scholastic sports across the state are ready to implement the busiest high school season ever known.
They just want kids to play again.