On Monday, Aug. 24, the day fall sports practices were set to begin before being postponed due to COVID-19, New York high schools finally have an idea which sports will be allowed by the state government.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that lower-risk sports — including tennis, soccer, cross country, field hockey and swimming — could begin their seasons on Sept. 21. Although those sports can schedule contests, teams cannot travel outside of their regions until at least Oct. 19. Football, however, can practice but not play games, as the sport is considered a higher risk for spreading infections. Other sports in this category include volleyball, a fall sport, wrestling (winter), and boys lacrosse (spring). Practices for higher-risk sports “are limited to individual or group, no- to low-contact training,” a press release from the governor’s office stated.
"The state has done a lot of research on youth sports,” Cuomo said during his Monday morning briefing, “and the guidance we've come up with is this: what's called lower risk sports — tennis, soccer, cross-country, field hockey, swimming — in all regions of the state can practice and play starting September 21. So schools will be coming back, there will be a little bit of a period to gauge what's happening, and September 21 they can start to practice and play across the state.”
Cuomo described the athletic plan as a phased resumption.
“We want to see what the effect is, we want to see how it works,” Cuomo said. “Schools opening in general is a big question mark: what could the effect be? The fall is a big question mark: many of the experts are suggesting there may be a second wave or a recurrence, so phasing it will allow us to watch it.”
According to the National Federation of High Schools, as of Monday, 17 states have canceled the fall football season: California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, plus the District of Columbia.
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association already canceled its regional and championship events for all sports due to travel concerns and issues with securing host sites.
Now, the NYSPHSAA plans to meet this week to develop a plan for fall sports schedules, giving a 72-hour timeline to do so prior to Cuomo’s guidance.