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Football Can Begin Practice On Same Date But Games Are Paused

ALBANY – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this morning he will allow low-risk interscholastic sports to proceed with practices and games starting on Sept. 21, but high-risk sports such as football can only begin practice on that date with a further determination on games pending.

The decision ended months of speculation about the fall after the coronavirus pandemic cut the winter high school season short and completely canceled the spring season.

The low-risk sports that can start include girls tennis, boys and girls soccer, cross country, field hockey and girls swimming. The New York State Public High School Athletic Association is awaiting word on volleyball and golf, but according to the state Department of Health volleyball is considered a high-risk sport.

Teams will not be allowed to travel, practice or play outside their own region, but Cuomo said the regions are defined as the same regions used in the reopening plans earlier this summer. The Mid-Hudson Region includes Dutchess, Ulster, Putnam, Orange, Sullivan, Westchester and Rockland counties.

High-risk, or close-contact sports, can begin practicing on Sept. 21 but must await further guidance regarding when it can schedule games.

In a tweet, Dr. Robert Zayas, Executive Director of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, outlined the next steps.

Speculation immediately began about a delayed start to games for football and other high-risk sports, with some saying the state would like to see its current level of low positivity rates continue or even shrink as the weather gets cooler. Others say football players will need more time to get in proper shape since captain’s practices and organized team activities and camps were canceled over the spring and summer.

As of today, New York has a 0.66 percent daily infection rate, which is the lowest rate of infection for people tested since March 16. The state has been averaging a rate of 1 percent or lower since June and has been under 1 percent for 17 consecutive days.

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