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New York State task force pushes back winter high school sports as fall season approaches

The start of the winter sports season in

The start of the winter sports season in New York was pushed to Nov. 30 to give the fall season more time. Credit: George A. Faella

The New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association COVID Task Force voted Monday to push back the start date for the winter sports season by two weeks.

The fall high school sports season is set to begin on Sept. 21. The winter sports were to start on Nov. 16, but that date was pushed to Nov. 30 to give the fall season more time.

“As the fall sports season starts on September 21st, 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,” said Paul Harrica, NYSPHSAA President and Chair of the COVID-19 Task Force, “The Task Force and officers spent a great deal of time discussing these topics to determine what is best for schools and student-athletes.”

Tom Combs, the executive director for Section XI, which governs all Suffolk schools, was in favor of the later start.

“The new start date for the winter sports is a really good move and it gives the fall season some time to breathe, I like it,” Combs said. “The delayed start doesn’t really impact the winter season. The state also bumped the amount of days necessary before you can participate in a game from six days to 10 days of preparation for all fall sports, except football which is 12 practice days.”

Speaking on a Zoom call Monday night, Dr. Robert Zayas, the executive director of NYSPHSAA, talked about the modified practice requirements and that football and volleyball were still labeled as high-risk sports and limited to practices only.

“We modified the practice requirements out of an abundance of caution,” Zayas said.

NYSPHSAA also announced that it would unveil the parameters of fall athletics after guidance from the Governor’s office later this week.

“We want the guidance from this comprehensive document that we’re creating to our member schools, to eliminate some of the stress to returning to sports this fall,” Zayas said. “There are so any factors to be aware of and what are the considerations for officials, traveling to an opposing school, and hosting another school.”

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