NYSPHAA Head Still Hopes Winter Sports Can Be Held
Updated: Dec 12, 2020
LATHAM, NY -The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) has announced the cancellation of all 2021 Winter State Championships and the postponement of all high-risk sports until authorization is granted by state officials. The NYSPHSAA Officers rendered these decisions with input from the NYSPHSAA membership and the 11 Section Executive Directors.
“When examining the feasibility of Winter State Championships, it became apparent that travel and overnight accommodations would create a unique challenge for our member schools,” said Dr. Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA Executive Director. “At this time, we must prioritize maximizing student participation without a focus on championship events.”
The Association’s decision to postpone all high-risk sports until authorization is granted was reinforced by the increase in infection and hospitalization rates across the State.
But Dr. Zayas has not given up hope that winter high-risk sports could still be held even if further delays reduced the window between the state's Winter season and the Fall Sports II season which is scheduled to start on March 11.
“We’re not delaying the inevitable. We’re hoping for the best outcome,” Zayas said in zoom meeting with media representatives from all over the state.
“We are working every single day to get authorization to give student-athletes the opportunity to participate. But it’s contingent upon authorization from state officials. We are doing our best, remaining optimistic and positive, and we do have the goal of hosting high-risk sports this winter season. If and when that goal does not look as if it’s going to be able to be reality, we have no problem making the decision and informing the general public and our schools of that decision," he said.
The cancellation of the Winter State Championships (bowling, basketball, boys swimming & diving, competitive cheerleading, gymnastics, indoor track & field, ice hockey, skiing, and wrestling) addresses membership concerns associated with increased travel, hotel accommodations, transportation logistics and the planning for meals. Furthermore, venue capacity limitations and social distancing restrictions make it increasingly difficult to ensure the safety of student-athletes, coaches, and families.
“As an educator, I am witnessing first-hand the challenges our member schools are facing each day in addressing this pandemic,” said Julie Bergman, NYSPHSAA President. “It is important we continue listening to the concerns being expressed by our membership when making decisions impacting interscholastic athletics.”
Low- and moderate-risk regular season sports continue to be permitted. The 2021 NYSPHSAA Spring State Championships remain scheduled at this time.
SECTION 10 WINTER SPORTS START ON HOLD
The NYSPHSAA decision left Section 10 officials simply waiting for "authorization" to start its winter sports season which was originally set for Jan.4 with the opening practices of boys and girls basketball, boys and girls hockey, wrestling for boys and girls, cheerleading and indoor track and field. The start of the season was pushed back from Nov. 30 because of the pandemic.
Indoor track-field is a moderate-low risk sport but at the present time there is no facility in Section 10 available to stage meets.
The authorization will come from the New York State Department of Health as it deals with the pandemic which is currently in an escalating mode across the state. A mode which state officials fear could be intensified by the upcoming Christmas-New Year's holiday season following on the heels of a rise attributed to the Thanksgiving Holiday.
The sports of football, girls volleyball, competitive cheerleading and girls swimming (low-moderate risk) have been assigned to the New York State Fall II season which is scheduled to begin practices on March 11.
At a zoom meeting on Friday Dr. Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA Executive Director, when questioned said that nothing has changed concerning the progression from Winter to the Fall season and eventually the Spring season.
Dr. Zayas also said that winter sports teams could still engage in off season conditioning and skills drills as long as they follow the state-wide restriction of no contact. A restriction which also in effect for AAU Basketball and club hockey teams.
The Section 10 Spring Sports offerings are moderate-low risk sports of baseball, softball, golf and track-field and boys and girls lacrosse which fall in the high risk category.