ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — When September 21st comes around, the “low-risk” high school sports will be going full-speed in New York. Football, volleyball, and competitive cheerleading will only be able to practice.
That was the decision made earlier this month by Governor Cuomo and right now there’s no timetable on when that will change.
It’s frustrating for people to see football being played on national TV around the country, especially with nearby states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania going forward with games. However, New York State Public High School Athletic Association Executive Director Robert Zayas says they’re using a different deck of cards. Right now, they’re playing with the hand they’re dealt.
“We have unique situations here in the state of New York and we have leadership that is looking at this situation from an abundance of caution. I think we have to respect that and we have to realize that the guidance has been provided based upon their criteria,” says Zayas. “Unfortunately, volleyball and football are considered those high-risk and they’re being limited to practice only. I think we have to cognizant that giving the opportunity for them to practice and participate is a step in the right direction.”
The decision on whether or not to allow football or volleyball games will come from New York health officials.
The question then becomes whether or not those sports will get moved to the fall or will be played in the spring. Zayas says he’s leaving that decision up to each individual section. Even if teams practice but don’t play games in the fall, they can still be moved to the spring.
The length of the sports season is 15 weeks, which could hypothetically mean that they could last into January. There is of course the issue of gym availability for volleyball and weather conditions for football. Those are one of many difficulties facing the sport.
Zayas made it clear that each school or section is not required to play high school sports. Section VIII in Nassau County is currently planning to delay high school sports until 2021. The New York State Council of School Superintendents published a letter on Wednesday urging Cuomo to reverse his decision and push sports to 2021. The NYSPHSAA will not stop any section or school that decides to not play sports.
For all fall sports, the number of practices required before games can begin was increased. For football, there are 12 required practices. For all other sports, 10 practices must be held. That’s to help condition student-athletes as they get ready for the season.
Schools will be restricted to play in their own league or section until October 19th. If the health situation dictates it, then teams can travel more for games.
It was also reaffirmed that students that are in a hybrid schooling system or choose to go virtual only will be allowed to play sports.
When games do begin, only two spectators will be allowed for each player. Other health and safety guidelines will be released no later than Friday in an extensive document that is over 50 pages long.
In an effort to give fall sports athletes as much time as possible to begin their seasons, winter sports have been moved back two weeks. Instead of starting on November 16th, they will now begin on November 30th.
There is a lot still to be determined to get any games back on the field. But at this point, it’s a good sign that things are still moving forward.