NYSPHSAA delays the official start date of the fall sports season, cancels fall championships and provides contingency guidance

NYSPHSAA logoToday, July 16, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) voted to delay the official start date of the fall sports season until Sept. 21,  cancel the fall regional and state championships and prepare to implement a condensed season schedule in January 2021 if high school sports remain prohibited throughout 2020 due to COVID-19.

This decision comes at the recommendation of the NYSPHSAA COVID-19 Task Force.

“We’re happy to receive this guidance and to know an abbreviated fall sports season is planned,” said Athletic Director Tim Bult.  “We appreciate the thoughtful work of NYSPHSAA to put this in place.  However, everyone must be aware of and accept the possibility this guidance can change, based on changing COVID-19 conditions, at any time.  Minisink Valley will follow all health and safety directives issued.”

Paul Harrica, NYSPHSAA president, said in a statement it was unrealistic to believe athletic seasons can start on Aug. 24 as originally scheduled, adding: “the priority will continue to be on the educational process and a return to learning in the safest way possible.”

The plan…

The decision includes:

• Delay the fall sports start date until Monday, Sept. 21
• Cancel fall regional and state championship events
• Waive the seven-day practice rule
• Maintain current practice requirements
• Encourage geographic scheduling for games and contests
• Schools would have the option, 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, NYSPHSAA executive director. “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.”

The plan… if COVID-19 continues to have an impact 

With regional differences, schools and areas will be impacted differently by the COVID-19 crisis. At the discretion of the NYSPHSAA and authorization from state officials, if the fall sports seasons are interrupted or impacted by COVID-19 crisis (i.e. state official guidance, school closings, cancelation of high-risk sports, etc.) then a condensed seasons plan will be implemented.

The condensed season plan would entail the following, with the stipulated dates being tentative:

Season I (Winter Sports)
Dates: Jan. 4 to March 13 (Week 27-36) 10 weeks *Note: tentative dates
Sports: basketball (girls & boys), bowling (girls & boys), gymnastics, ice hockey (girls & boys), indoor track & field (girls & boys), skiing (girls & boys), swimming (boys), *wrestling, *competitive cheer.
* Because of high risk nature of wrestling and competitive cheer, sports may have to be moved to Season II or season III.

Season II (Fall Sports)
Dates: March 1 to May 8 (Week 35-44) 10 Weeks *Note: tentative dates
Sports: football, cross country (girls & boys), field hockey, soccer (girls & boys), swimming (girls),  volleyball (girls & boys), Unified bowling.
Note: Weather will have an impact upon outdoor sports in some parts of the state in March and potentially early April. Girls Tennis moved to Season III.

Season III (Spring Sports)
Dates: April 5 to June 12 (Week 40-49) 10 Weeks *Note: tentative dates
Sports: baseball, softball, golf (girls & boys), lacrosse (girls & boys), tennis (girls & boys), outdoor track & field (girls & boys), unified basketball.

NYSPHSAA has the ability to adjust seasons with the authority granted within its Constitution which states: “Article IV, 2: A committee of officers in consultation with the staff shall have the authority to act on all matters not provided for in this constitution and bylaws, and on such emergency business as may arise between regular meetings of the Executive Committee.”