Although the decision whether to reopen schools around the state will not be made until Aug. 1, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association made the decision Thursday to delay to start of the 2020 fall season for scholastic sports.
The second meeting the NYSPHSAA COVID-19 task force Thursday prompted the decision to push back the proposed start of the fall season until Sept. 21.
“As the state considers reopening, it is unrealistic to believe athletic seasons can start Aug. 24 as originally scheduled,” New York State Public High School Athletic Association president Paul Harrica said.
The coronavirus pandemic already wiped out the spring season and took away the final 10 days of the winter season.
“We recognize this is challenging for everyone, but the decisions made at the state level are based upon data and statewide infection rates all in an effort to stop the spread of COVID and reopen responsibly,” said Robert Zayas, executive director of the NYSPHSAA. “At this time, Department of Health guidance presented on July 13 prohibits interscholastic athletics across the state. The Association will continue to follow state guidance and will work collectively with state officials to ensure high school athletics will start up responsibly in the future.”
“I think it was a good idea,” Section II executive director Ed Dopp said. “I am not a part of the task force, but I am in support — at this point — of pushing fall season back.”
Tom Husser serves in several roles. He coaches girls’ soccer at Hoosick Falls, serves as the school’s athletic director and also holds the position of Section II girls’ soccer chairman. Like so many others hearing Thursday’s news, Husser was not caught off guard by the announcement.
“I get asked by five to six people daily, ‘When are we going to start? What I say is wait until Aug. 1 when the governor comes out with his decisions,” Husser said. “I have gone from 90 percent negative and 10 percent positive, then been 70-30 positive to now thinking it is 50-50 that we’ll play fall sports. You see colleges not playing. It is difficult. All we can do is hope.”
“Obviously, there are no state championships or regionals games,” said Ravena athletic director and Section II football coordinator Bob Dorrance. “Whether we play sectional games will be determined by what the governor says.”
“The hardest thing for us and me right now is I can’t be around my kids,” Shaker football coach Greg Sheeler said. “We’re getting all this news together, but I can’t be in front of them to explain it and provide reassurance.”
If the start of the fall season is pushed back again, the state will utilize a three-season schedule beginning on Jan.4 with the winter season. The fall season would be conducted from March 1 through May 8 with spring running from April 5 through June 12.
Losing state championships for the fall season, whenever it is held, is certainly a blow for all the area’s best athletes.
“It is,” Sheeler said. “I try to look at the big picture of it. We’d be grateful for any season. Obviously, we want a full season and be able to have states. We know a lot of people have been affected by this pandemic, including the spring sports kids from last (scholastic) year. … At this point, we would be grateful for any football.”
A condensed season plan would entail the following, with the stipulated dates being tentative:
SEASON I (winter sports)
- Dates: Jan. 4-March 13 (Week 27-36) 10 weeks
- Sports: Basketball (girls and boys), bowling (girls and boys), gymnastics, ice hockey (girls and boys), indoor track and field (girls and boys), skiing (girls and boys), swimming (boys), wrestling, competitive cheer (because of high-risk nature of wrestling and competitive cheer, sports may have to be moved to season II or season III.
SEASON II (fall sports)
- Dates: March 1-May 8 (Week 35-44) 10 weeks
- Sports: Football, cross country (girls and boys), field hockey, soccer (girls and boys), swimming (girls), volleyball (girls and boys), unified bowling. (weather will have an impact upon outdoor sports in some parts of the state in March and potentially early April.)
SEASON III (spring sports)
- Dates: April 5-June 12 (Week 40-49) 10 weeks
- Sports: Baseball, softball, golf (girls and boys), lacrosse (girls and boys), tennis (girls and boys), outdoor track and field (girls and boys), unified basketball.
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