As the calendar turns to September, the high school fall sports picture gets clearer.
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association and its COVID-19 task force met once again Monday to discuss guidelines provided by the New York State Department of Health for the fall sports season. In the organization's fifth meeting since Aug. 25, it was decided that the force would provide a comprehensive guideline for NYSPHSAA's member schools to follow with practices drawing near, as the document is expected for Friday.
It was also announced that NYSPHSAA officers voted on several rules with changes coming in four areas.
With the fall season's delayed Sept. 21 start after being adjust from Aug. 24, the officers elected to push the start of the winter season back from Nov. 16 to Nov. 30. They also chose to waive the seven-consecutive days rule (beginning on Oct. 12) and updated the amount of practice time needed for each kid to participate in competition. Football players will all need 12 practices, while the remaining fall sports athletes need 10.
NYSPHSAA's officers are also restricting low and moderate-risk sports competition outside of respective leagues and sections until Oct. 19.
Despite the amended rules, there is still no decision as to what will come about of high-risk fall sports, which includes football, volleyball and cheerleading. The association, however, did announce that its officers are still considering whether or not these sports will be permitted.
The possibility of a condensed-seasons model could still be applied if the return to schools leads to a spike in coronavirus cases. This "plan B" of sorts would have the winter season going Jan. 4-March 13, followed by the fall from March 1-May 8, closing with the spring season from April 5-June 12.
NYSPHSAA executive director Dr. Robert Zayas shared his praises for his organization in a shared statement on nysphsaa.org.
“I am encouraged by the work of our association and state officials to provide the opportunity for schools to offer interscholastic athletics for students this fall,” Zayas said. “Unfortunately all sports will look different and participation will not be the same as it was a year ago, but students will have the chance to represent their school, be around their friends and coaches, and experience a sense of normalcy this fall. It is critical that student-athletes be leaders in their schools and communities and strictly abide by COVID-19 safety protocols.”
Paul Harrica, NYSPHSAA President and Chair of the COVID-19 task force, also added comments as to why the winter season was delayed by two weeks.
“As the fall sports season starts on Sept. 21, we felt it was most appropriate to delay the start of the winter sports season by two weeks to afford sections and schools additional time to play the fall sports seasons before the winter seasons began,” Harrica said. “The task force and officers spent a great deal of time discussing these topics to determine what is best for schools and student-athletes.”