NYSPHSAA votes to delay official start date of fall sports season

On July 16, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) voted to delay the official start date of the fall sports season until Sept. 21.

This decision comes at the recommendation of the NYSPHSAA COVID-19 Task Force and includes the cancellation of the fall regional and state championships. A condensed season schedule may be implemented in January 2021 if high school sports remain prohibited throughout 2020 due to COVID-19.

NYSPHSAA President Paul Harrica said in a statement it was unrealistic to believe athletic seasons can start on Aug. 24 as originally scheduled, adding: “the priority will continue to be on the educational process and a return to learning in the safest way possible.”

The decision includes:

  • Delay the fall sports start date until Monday, Sept. 21
  • Cancel fall regional and state championship events
  • Waive the seven-day practice rule
  • Maintain current practice requirements
  • Encourage geographic scheduling for games and contests
  • Schools would have the option, if permitted by state officials, to offer off-season conditioning workouts.

“We recognize this is challenging for everyone, but the decisions made at the state level are based upon data and statewide infection rates all in an effort to stop the spread of COVID and reopen responsibly,” said Dr. Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA executive director. “The association will continue to follow state guidance and will work collectively with state officials to ensure high school athletics will start up responsibly in the future.”

With regional differences, schools and areas will be impacted differently by the COVID-19 crisis. At the discretion of the NYSPHSAA and authorization from state officials, if the fall sports seasons are interrupted or impacted by COVID-19 crisis (i.e. state official guidance, school closings, cancellation of high-risk sports, etc.) then a condensed seasons plan will be implemented.

The condensed season plan would entail the following, with the stipulated dates being tentative:

Season I (Winter Sports)

*Note: tentative dates

Dates: Jan. 4 to March 13 (Week 27-36) 10 weeks

Sports: basketball (girls & boys), bowling (girls & boys), gymnastics, ice hockey (girls & boys), indoor track & field (girls & boys), skiing (girls & boys), swimming (boys), *wrestling, *competitive cheer.

* Because of high risk nature of wrestling and competitive cheer, sports may have to be moved to Season II or season III.

Season II (Fall Sports)

*Note: tentative dates

Dates: March 1 to May 8 (Week 35-44) 10 Weeks

Sports: football, cross country (girls & boys), field hockey, soccer (girls & boys), swimming (girls), volleyball (girls & boys), Unified bowling.

Note: Weather will have an impact upon outdoor sports in some parts of the state in March and potentially early April. Girls Tennis moved to Season III.

Season III (Spring Sports)

*Note: tentative dates

Dates: April 5 to June 12 (Week 40-49) 10 Weeks

Sports: baseball, softball, golf (girls & boys), lacrosse (girls & boys), tennis (girls & boys), outdoor track & field (girls & boys), unified basketball.

NYSPHSAA has the ability to adjust seasons with the authority granted within its Constitution which states: “Article IV, 2: A committee of officers in consultation with the staff shall have the authority to act on all matters not provided for in this constitution and bylaws, and on such emergency business as may arise between regular meetings of the Executive Committee.”