The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) announced on Tuesday a tentative start date of Jan. 4 for high-risk winter sports throughout the state.
State health officials must give their approval before the high-risk sports are allowed to begin competition.
All winter sports were originally set to begin Nov. 30 prior to the announcement.
The state’s high risk winter sports include basketball, competitive cheer, ice hockey and wrestling.
According to the New York Department of Health higher-risk sports and recreation activities are characterized as sports that are “least likely able to maintain physical
distance and/or be done individually.”
The NYDOH also classifies high-risk sports as sports that are more likely to share equipment between players.
Low and moderate-risk sports can begin statewide on Nov. 3o.
The local team’s, however, will have to wait a little longer. Section II announced last week that its low and moderate-risk winter sports will be allowed to begin its season Dec. 14.
The only varsity winter sport Hoosick Falls offers that does not fall under the high-risk category is bowling. Cambridge offers indoor track. Hoosick Falls has had a rifle team in past years, but statewide numbers declined to the point where the state no longer recognizes the sport.
NYSPHSAA executive director Robert Zayas believes the Jan. 4 date gives the state some flexibility to assess what comes next.
“It gives us more time to work with state officials as they examine and analyze their metrics, and hopefully we’ll get authorization at some point during the month of December to begin on Jan. 4,” Zayas said during a press conference. ““Right now, Jan. 4 is just an arbitrary date that we’re hoping and optimistic that we can receive authorization at some point.”
Hoosick Falls athletic director Tom Husser said the main concern is for the safety of the athletes.
“Bottom line, everyone is concerned about the safety of the kids and that is the number one thing,” Husser said.
Husser said he is sympathetic to the athletes at the same time, especially the senior class.
“I do feel really sorry for our seniors,” Husser said. “They’ve lost their spring sport last year. Now we’re going back and forth with the winter sports. There are so many memories that they’re losing.”
Husser also mentioned that the seniors have yet to play their fall sports. All WASAREN League fall sports were moved to the fall II season, which will begin March 1.
Zayas said with approval needed from the state, there is not much more the NYSPHSAA can do at this time.
“Now, we’re waiting. We set a target date of Jan. 4 for our high-risk winter sports, and we’re waiting for authorization,” Zayas said.
Asked when the next update might come, the executive director said it could be more than a month.
“If we get to late December and we still have not been able to receive authorization, then we’ll adjust that start date again,” Zayas said.
With COVID-19 cases rising there has been some concern over the fate of the winter sports season throughout the state. Zayas said NYSPHSAA is doing its due diligence.
“We’re not going to cancel prematurely. We’re not going to make a decision in November to cancel the winter sports season, without having readily available information and being able to work with our state officials,” Zayas said.
Thousands of high school student athletes must now wait and see whether or not they will get the opportunity to play their winter sport.
“I’m very cognizant that there’s close to 600,000 student-athletes that are relying upon our association and our 11 sections to provide them with the opportunity to participate in interscholastic athletics,” Zayas said.