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High Schools Patiently Wait For Winter Sports Guidelines

BY DAVE SHEA

While the nation patiently awaits the final results of the presidential election, athletes, coaches, school officials and fans are being asked to be patient awaiting guidance from the state on the winter sports season.

On Tuesday, New York State Public High School Athletic Association Executive Director Robert Zayas stressed “patience” as Governor Andrew Cuomo and health officials sifted through the mountains of information on the COVID-19 virus spread before making determinations which will greatly change life in the winter months in the North Country.

Each section and leagues in the state have prepared schedules which are awaiting the guidelines which Gov. Cuomo is expected release very soon. Until then the sports communities and the NYSPHSAA patiently wait for guidance. “This is not the type of situation where we’re getting immediate answers – we have to understand where we fall as interscholastic athletics and high school sports on the ‘hierarchy of need,’ “ Zayas said Tuesday in videoconference.

“There’s a priority list at the State Department of Health. There’s a priority list of the Governor’s Office. There’s a priority list at the state Education Department. And as much as maybe we want high school sports to be at the top of that priority list, we also have to be realistic and understand that . . . hospitalizations, infection rates, vulnerable populations, educating the students in the classroom, getting those students to and from schools [and] potential distribution of vaccines – those are all things that our state officials are actively working on right now. We have to be patient and I know that’s not a good feeling . . . but unfortunately, these are uncertain times, and it’s just not possible at this point in time.”

With the Fall I season ending on Nov. 15 the current plan in place has the winter sports season to begin on Nov. 30 but the sports of basketball, hockey and wrestling are still classified as high risk. In Section 10 the sport of indoor track-field is totally up in the air as college facilities are currently closed to outside use. When asked what would happen if the start of winter sports is postponed Zayas said “we have to be willing to pivot and be flexible and amend and revise and modify our decisions in the best interest of student-athletes.”

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