Low-Risk High School Winter Sports May Proceed As Scheduled, Jury Still Out On Other Sports

Winter sports like wrestling, basketball and cheerleading, may be delayed due to the pandemic.

For winter sports athletes and coaches, the last few weeks have been a tense waiting game. Would they be able to return to action and have a season? Or would rising infection rates in the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic mean further delay or even cancellation of their seasons?

For some, there was good news recently. For others, the jury is still out.

New York State Public High School Athletic Association Executive Director Dr. Robert Zayas released a statement on November 9, saying that “low and moderate risk” winter sports — including bowling, gymnastics, indoor track and field, skiing, and swimming and diving — are permitted to go ahead with their seasons and start practicing on November 30, while the “high-risk” sports — wrestling, basketball, and cheerleading—still await authorization.

“The high-risk start date continues to be examined and will be revised if needed, but is contingent upon authorization from state officials,” the statement said.
The statement came on the heels of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Monday conference, in which one state official expressed doubt that winter sports would proceed this year because of rising infection rates.

Unlike most of the rest of the state, Nassau County and Suffolk County had chosen January 4 as the start date for an abbreviated winter sports season, with games set to begin on January 12, so the announcement won’t disrupt any scheduled practices for the higher-risk teams just yet.

In the fall, officials from Section XI — the governing body of high school sports in Suffolk County — decided to postpone fall sports and instead created a plan that would allow all three sports season to run shortened abbreviated versions in 2021, starting with winter sports in January, and squeezing in a fall and spring sports season before the end of the school year.