Gov. Andrew Cuomo addressed interscholastic fall sports on Monday, giving the go-ahead to low-risk sports, but not high school football or volleyball.
Sports like soccer, cross country and field hockey with a lower risk of contact are allowed to play starting Sept. 21, Cuomo said.
However, football and volleyball can practice but are not allowed to play at this time as they are higher risk sports. Similarly, wrestling and ice hockey should also wait, but they are winter sports.
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association said it will work on metrics for the fall season in the coming days.
“I see this as a step in the right direction,” said NYSPHSAA Executive Director Robert Zayas. “What happened today is that over 200,000 student-athletes have been told they can start training on September 21, and 130,000 of those kids have the opportunity to have a season.”
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Zayas said volleyball was labeled high risk by the governor’s office in its youth sports guidelines over the summer.
“We wouldn’t have played on September 21 anyway, but we can still train,” Glens Falls head football coach Pat Lilac said. “We are still starting on the same date that (NYSPHSAA) had proposed. We hope that by the time we were going to play games we can start.
School sports have been closed since March amid pandemic precautions. The winter state playoffs and the entire spring season were canceled as schools were closed for the remainder of the school year.
Cuomo, during his Monday press conference, said interscholastic sports must follow state Health Department guidelines, just as schools prepare to reopen this fall. He also said travel for training or playing is not permitted outside of a school’s area until October 19.
“We are approaching youth sports like we approached everything else during our phased reopening,” Cuomo said in a press release. “Teams are not permitted to compete outside of a school area or contiguous area at this time until we can assess the effects.”
Additionally, the governor’s press release says indoor facility capacity is capped at a maximum of 50% occupancy and attendance is limited to a maximum of two spectators per player. Social distancing and wearing a face covering remain mandatory.
Zayas said the number of practices needed before playing contests, and whether or not sectional playoffs can take place, are two of the topics NYSPHSAA will discuss with section managers and its coronavirus task force on Tuesday.
“We are awaiting further guidance on this,” Zayas said.
Fall sports considered low risk by the governor’s office include soccer, cross country, field hockey, tennis, swimming and golf.
Football is considered high-risk due to the full-contact nature of the sport and the difficulty of social distancing on a crowded touchline.
Assuming a football season can be played this fall, Lilac said it would be “interesting” to see what Section II comes up with for a schedule – especially if it is to be crammed into October and November.
“A long time ago Section II was the regular 10-game schedule, with playoffs,” Lilac said. “I don’t know if that’s what they’re going to do or if the state has other plans.
“The two big things we’re looking at are when school starts and how it’s going, and flu season,” Lilac added, “and where we fit in between those.”
According to the schedule announced by NYSPHSAA, Section Directors and NYSPHSAA Officers meet within 24 hours, the Coronavirus Task Force meets the following day, and NYSPHSAA Officers make all remaining decisions the following day.
Follow Pete Tobey on Twitter @PTobeyPSVarsity.