A Long Island assemblyman has joined a growing chorus of state lawmakers in discussions about introducing legislation that would permit high school sports classified as high-risk to begin competition.
Assemb. Edward Ra (R-Rockville Centre) of the 19th District in Nassau County, said he supports the legislation proposed Thursday that would pave the way for sports such as football, basketball, wrestling and lacrosse — among the sports deemed high-risk for transmission of COVID-19 by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration — to be played. The legislation was proposed by Assemb. Colin Schmitt, a Republican from the 99th District, which serves parts of Orange and Rockland counties.
Section VIII and Section XI, the governing bodies for public school sports in Nassau and Suffolk respectively, decided to postpone sports in the fall semester and instead play three compressed seasons from January to June this year. Low- and moderate-risk winter sports have begun competition, but all high-risk sports remain indefinitely postponed until Cuomo issues guidance for how they may be played.
"The easier and quicker way would be, obviously, for updated directives and guidance to come from the governor's office," Ra told Newsday. "The legislative process, I always say, can take as long or as short as the people that are in the power to move it . . . If the majority in the legislature wanted to move something like this, it can move rather quickly."
Members of the state legislature are not the only ones growing more vocal about high school sports. Nassau County Executive Laura Curran told News 12 that what has worked in schools can work in school sports.
"Structured time under supervision is a very safe place for kids to be — we see that with schools," she said. "I think sports supplies really important physical activity, mental activity [and] social activity. And when it's done under supervision, we know that the safety guidelines will be followed. I am 100% for that."
The high-risk winter sports that are not playing are boys and girls basketball, wrestling and competitive cheerleading. Sports traditionally played in the fall, including football, are scheduled to start on or about March 1. Spring sports, including boys and girls lacrosse, are slated to open on or around May 1.
"We haven't had really much information or shift in what has come out of there," Ra said of the governor’s office "They had put out their categorizations of different sports, but I think the biggest change since [classifying] high-, moderate- and low-risk [sports] is that many states throughout the country have had seasons in different sports. I believe about 34 states have basically been playing all sports, even many of our neighboring states that we have worked with to coordinate our approaches — like New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut — have started allowing sports to move forward that we're still not.
"In other states, there does not seem to be a ton of data that's suggesting that the virus is being spread in those settings," Ra added.