Hudson Valley Sports Report


NYSED Recommends Canceling Some Sports; Politicians Get Involved Sooner

By Rich Thomaselli
HVSR Staff

Once again the dawn of another high school sports season, set to begin in just 10 days, is on tenuous ground because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A dramatic rise in cases due to the Delta variant of the virus has caused the New York State Education Department (NYSED) to recommend to schools that they cancel high-risk sports like football, wrestling, ice hockey, volleyball and cheerleading in areas where there is a high transmission of the virus.

Based on data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all counties in Section 1 and Section 9 have a high transmission rate of COVID-19.

“High-risk sports and extracurricular activities should be virtual or canceled in areas of high community transmission unless all participants are fully vaccinated,” the NYSED guidelines said.

Though these are just recommendations and not mandates, it smacks of what happened last year when fall sports were delayed and some sports, such as football and volleyball, were moved to the spring.

And all this comes just a week after the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) had signed off on sports as usual for the fall.

“NYSPHSAA has received the NYSED ‘Health and Safety Guide for the 2021-22 School Year’. We encourage our member schools to utilize this document and consult with local health departments as they plan for the 2021-22 fall interscholastic athletic season scheduled to begin on August 23,” the NYSPHSAA said in a statement. “NYSPHSAA will continue working with state officials to ensure student-athletes have a safe and successful academic and athletic school year.”

One good note could be the intervention of politicians. Virtually every lawmaker sat on the sidelines for months last year before a coordinated, grassroots effort by Mahopac football coach Dominic DeMatteo led to their involvement in the spring.

On Friday, New York State Assemblyman Colin J. Schmitt (R,C,I,LBT,SAM-New Windsor) released a statement opposing the new guidance from the Department of Education.

Schmitt and colleague Ed Ra sent a letter to the incoming Governor, Kathy Hochul, and the Commissioner of Education objecting to the new guidance that placed interscholastic sports back on the docket to be halted, referencing COVID-19 and student vaccinations as the factor preventing youth sports to continue.

Schmitt said he will also immediately be introducing legislation that, if passed, would bar this anti-interscholastic sports guidance from being enforced.

“Here we go again. Our students need to be allowed to play interscholastic sports. I fought the Cuomo administration vigorously to ensure our students have the ability to get back to their interscholastic sports earlier this year and we were victorious,” Schmitt said in a statement. “With a new Governor coming into office, I find it troubling that one of the first actions would be to once again cancel some school sports for our kids. The science on this issue has not changed. It is safe to play all interscholastic sports and teams have the ability to do so following proper safety protocols. The state needs to get out of the way and let them play.”

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