‘High Risk’ high school sports postponed

Rob Maeske
The Chronicle-Express

The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) has announced the postponement of “high risk” sports—those sports determined by New York State to have the highest risk of COVID transmission—from the original start date of Nov. 30 to a new date of Jan. 4. The affected sports include basketball, competitive cheer, ice hockey, and wrestling. Winter sports still designated low to moderate risk will still be permitted to commence practices on Nov. 30 and include bowling, gymnastics, indoor track & field, skiing, and swimming & diving.

Close contact sports like basketball have been postponed to at least Jan. 4 to reduce the rising spread of COVID-19.

“The NYSPHSAA membership has expressed concerns pertaining to the increase in infection rates,” said Dr. Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA Executive Director. “Minimizing risk and exposure to COVID-19 is a top priority of the Association. We continue to make these types of decisions based upon readily available information and communication with state officials.”

“NYSPHSAA’s leadership recognizes the numerous challenges interscholastic programs are experiencing and the obstacles associated with resuming high-risk sports,” said Julie Bergman, NYSPHSAA President. “While it is certainly the goal of the Association to provide all students with the ability to participate in interscholastic athletics we must remain steadfast in our decisions to ensure the safety of our athletes is our focus.”

As of now, all winter NYSPHSAA State Championship events remain as they have been scheduled, however NYSPHSAA representatives stressed that providing an opportunity for students to participate in some form of sports activities was the primary focus of the association, rather than worrying about titles.

Dr. Zayas clarified that the Jan. 4 date for high-risk sports was an arbitrary date set to simply give NYSPHSAA and its member schools more time to see how the situation would develop and that formal authorization would still have to come from the NY Dept. of Health before any contact practices or competitive matches could begin.

When asked if there was a consideration to simply cancel this year’s season for high-risk sports rather than continue to delay the start of the season, Zayas stated, “We are not going to cancel before it would be absolutely necessary. If we get to late December and we still haven’t been able to receive authorization [from the Department of Health], then we’ll adjust that start date again.”

“We have to be flexible,” said Zayas.