As COVID-19 cases continue to spike statewide, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) has decided to cancel all winter state championships and postpone all high-risk sports until further guidance from state officials.
With high infection and hospitalization rates persisting into December, high school sports continued to limp on, with regulations and restrictions to ensure the safety of the athletes. However, with the state seeing no improvements regarding the spread of the virus, state officials quickly intervened via the cancellation of winter state championships. NYSPHSAA Executive Director, Dr. Robert Zayas, spoke on the logistics of allowing the state championships to continue. “When examining the feasibility of Winter State Championships, it became apparent that travel and overnight accommodations would create a unique challenge for our member schools,” said Dr. Zayas. Logistically speaking, it would be a risk to all schools if players from all over the state were to gather in one area and compete against a slew of other athletes. The players would have to follow social distancing protocols while simultaneously being in contact with each other. It is a daunting task and too great of a gamble to proceed over a competition where the virus could spread like wildfire among the players and coaches, maybe even back to their respective schools. Basketball, swimming and diving, competitive cheerleading, gymnastics, indoor track and field, ice hockey, and wrestling all fall victim to the state championship cancellations.
A ruling from the NYSPHSAA that is much more personal is the postponement of all high-risk sports until further notice. This ruling has felt personal for many of the students here at Hills West. The allure of State Championships has always enticed our athletes, but what separates them from the rest is their love for the sport they play, no matter the prize. It’s certainly both dissappointing and unfortunate…the only thing we can do at this poit is put our heads down and work hard for whenever sports come back” said Track and Field team member Gavin Schochet (11). The sports deemed that are deemed high-risk are defined as such due to the close proximity that teammates or opposing players may have to each other. Usually, these sports are contested with multiple players on the playing surface at one time. The sports that are feeling the sting from this ruling are basketball, boys lacrosse, competitive cheerleading, football, ice hockey, volleyball, and wrestling.
While this announcement is not what any of us had asked for, new developments like a potential vaccine and new and improved social distancing guidelines might help our athletes get back out there as soon as possible. This Holiday Season, I think we can all wish for the return of Hills West sports, as quickly and safely as possible.