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Fall season for high school sports uncertain despite Cuomo decision

About 130,000 high school athletes got the green light Monday to participate in sports this fall; now their school districts are mulling whether to allow the seasons to start. All high school sports have been on hold since March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said most high school sports have a moderate or low risk for spreading COVID-19. He also said districts can hold games if they wish after Sept. 21. Football and volleyball are considered high-risk sports, so those games wouldn’t be allowed but those teams can practice.

David Watson from the New York State Public High School Athletic Association is happy for student athletes, but said this decision has to be made on a district-by-district basis. 

“That was really good news for them,” Watson said. “That was the news we were waiting for that they could get back on the field and start practicing on Sept. 21. Let's get kids back in the classroom. Let's get them back on buses. Let's get them back to that normalcy first and then let's bring athletics back into the mix after that.”

Watson said this decision gives the state and school districts wiggle room as they decide what’s best for everyone’s safety. He also said the group is working on health and safety protocols.

“I think each individual section is going to have to address what their concerns are and what’s best for them as opposed to a one blanket solution for everybody,” he said.

Public radio's WXXI News reached out to half a dozen local school districts about their plan for high school sports. They say they’re waiting for more information from the NYSPHSAA and the county Health Department before they make decisions.

New York State is expected to make additional announcements about winter sports like basketball, hockey, wrestling and cheerleading in the coming months. Those sports are also on the state’s high-risk list.

Before coming to WXXI News, James spent a decade in marketing communications, while freelance writing for Rochester City Newspaper. While at City, his reporting focused primarily on arts and entertainment.
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