December 6, 2021

High school fall sports delayed; championships canceled

Photo provided by New York State Public High School Athletic Association

LATHAM — The New York State Public High School Athletic Association has delayed the start of the fall 2020 sports season and canceled the fall regional and state championships because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It expects to condense season schedule in January if high school sports remain prohibited throughout the year. This decision comes at the recommendation of the association COVID-19 task force when it convened Thursday.

“As the state considers reopening, it is unrealistic to believe athletic seasons can start on August 24th as originally scheduled,” said President Paul Harrica. “The priority will continue to be on the educational process and a return to learning in the safest way possible.”

The ruling will:
— Delay fall sports start until Sept. 21.
— Cancel fall regional and state championship.
— Waive a seven-day practice rule.
— Maintain current practice requirements.
— Encourage geographic scheduling for games and contests.
— Allow schools, if permitted by state officials, to offer off-season conditioning workouts.

“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 Dr. Robert Zayas, association executive directorr. “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.”

At the discretion of the association officers and authorization from state officials, a condensed season may be played with these tentative dates:

Season I (winter sports)
Dates: Jan. 4 to March. 13
Sports: basketball, bowling, gymnastics, ice hockey, indoor track & field, skiing, boys swimming, wrestling, competitive cheer. Wrestling and cheer may be postponed further.
Season II (fall sports)
Dates: March 1 to May 8
Sports: football, cross country, field hockey, soccer, girls swimming, volleyball, unified bowling. Weather will have an effect on outdoor sports in some parts of the state. Girls tennis was moved to Season III.
Season III (spring sports)
Dates: April 5 to June 12
Sports: baseball, softball, golf, lacrosse, tennis, outdoor track and field, unified basketball.

To help schools comply with new state Department of Health guidance, the association’s COVID-19 task force supports using ezSCRN application, an online tool for schools to utilize if screening is part of their reopening plan.

The next meeting of the COVID-19 task force has not been set.