Syracuse, N.Y — High school football in New York state will become a spring sport this season.
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association has decided to football from the fall to March 1 this year because of coronavirus concerns. Volleyball and cheerleading, which are also considered high-risk activities, will be pushed to the spring as well.
Lower risk sports, such as tennis, golf, swimming, field hockey, cross country and soccer remain on schedule for the start of practice Sept. 21.
““We’ve spent two days speaking with nearly 500 athletic directors across the state and it’s clear that administering high-risk fall sports during the COVID-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge for our member schools,” Dr. Robert Zayas, executive director of the NYSPHSAA said in a statement. “These are unprecedented times and unfortunately, difficult decisions will have to be made to address this ongoing crisis. We continue to stay committed to providing support to our member schools and quality participation experiences for the students we serve.”
Bob Campese, co-chairman of Section III football, said he is “a little disappointed” with the move.
“I think the superintendents had a little reservation of it. Everybody wanted to be up and running, to take the chance. I guess now it’s adding more craziness to a year of crazy,” Campese said.
Indian River coach Cory Marsell tried to keep an optimistic approach.
“We are happy with the decision. Definitely mixed feelings but we will know more about the virus and how It has affected our school population and community,” he said in an email. “We should also be closer to a vaccine which will allow us to focus on football a little more.”
The revised season for football, volleyball and fall competitive cheer, will be known as “Fall Sports Season II” and may officially begin practices on March 1, 2021.
“I’m super-disappointed,” said Baldwinsville girls volleyball coach Mary Jo Cerqua said of the switch. “It felt like it’s the easy way out, for sure. At least we’re given the opportunity to play, so that’s the good thing.”
Oswego boys volleyball coach Eric McCrobie also had mixed feelings.
“I would find it hard to believe if everyone agreed with this decision. This is not what we (coaches and players) expected at the end of the 2019-2020 season,” he said in an email. “However I think it is important we trust the decisions made by NYSPHSAA and the individuals responsible for this announcement. No adult wants to take away the opportunity for a student athlete to play a sport, but we also have to be responsible and take their health and safety into consideration.”
As a result of fall high-risk sports being moved, the start date for the spring sports season has been adjusted to April 19, 2021. The first official practice for spring sports will now be April 19, 2021 (the original start date was March 15).
New York is now the 19th state or region to postpone fall high school football.
The others are:
- District of Columbia
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
“To say that I am disappointed would be an understatement. I expected this decision to be made several weeks ago, so I’m not entirely surprised, but when we were told the decision would be in the hands of the individual schools, I was confident that we would get our shot,” West Genesee football coach Joe Corley said in an email. “I, my staff, our players, their families, our community and others have sacrificed so much as it is and have done everything we’ve been asked to do. We deserved our shot to make it work.
“I am encouraged that we will have the opportunity to play and coach the game that we all love this spring, but there is no second, nothing, like the Friday night atmosphere in the fall. It’s a unique thing that our players will not get to experience this year. It’s what we live for and what we’ve been waiting for. This hurts for now, but football will be back.”
Meanwhile, the status of fall sports in Section III hangs in the balance. Section III has sent out surveys to all of its 106 school districts asking their opinions on the feasibility of fall sports.
Friday, the section’s executive committee will tally the results and make a decision on whether the lower-risk sports can be played or should be switched to the spring season.