Some fall sports delayed to spring

Staff reports
The Chronicle Express

The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) announced Thursday that football, volleyball, and competitive cheering, sports that have been designated as high-risk for transmission of COVID-19 by the State Dept. of Health, would have their Fall seasons pushed back to Spring with a new start date of March 1, 2021. To accommodate those sports being moved, the traditional Spring sports season will begin April 19 instead of its original start date of March 15. The decision was made to address concerns expressed by member schools across the state after the release of NYSPHSAA’s release of their official guidance document on 9/4 regarding a return to interscholastic sports this Fall. An updated version of the document was released on Friday.

The NYSPHSAA has declared that high school football like Penn Yan’s has been designated as high-risk for transmission of COVID-19 by the N.Y. State Dept. of Health, and the Fall season has been pushed to spring with a new start date of March 1.

“We’ve spent two days speaking with nearly 500 athletic directors across the state and it’s clear that administering high-risk fall sports during the COVID-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge for our member schools,” said Dr. Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA Executive Director. “These are unprecedented times and unfortunately, difficult decisions will have to be made to address this ongoing crisis. We continue to stay committed to providing support to our member schools and quality participation experiences for the students we serve.”

The updated season is being designated “Fall Sports Season II.”

The NYSPHSAA decision also applies to cheerleading and volleyball for having too great a risk for transmission of COVID-19. Programs like Dundee’s cheerleading (above) and Penn Yan’s girls volleyball (below) will be put off until spring.
Penn Yan Academy volleyball players.

Meanwhile, low and moderate-risk sports are still scheduled to start practices on Sept. 21st as previously released by NYSPHSAA. For those schools who have decided to go ahead with Fall sports, tennis, cross country, swimming/diving, soccer, golf, gymnastics and field hockey may begin playing their regular season games or meets once they’ve completed the required number of practices. Most sports have a requirement of 10 practices with the exception of gymnastics, which requires 12. There will still be no regional/state championships for the Fall and participating schools will still be restricted to playing within their own Sections or Leagues.

“Decisions are being made in very rapid-fire fashion,” said Zayas via a Zoom call Wednesday evening. “They are being based upon readily available information... We’ve been very careful not to attempt to predict into the future.”

Later, Zayas stated, “The decision was focused on attempting to provide those [student] athletes… who compete in school sports in the Fall with the opportunity to have a quality participation experience. It was going to be very difficult to provide that right now.”