WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) -Earlier this week, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association named a panel to study the impact of COVID-19 on the fall high school sports season.
The NYSPHSAA has begun trying to answer the question of what a fall sports season will look like among other questions by forming an AD-HOC committee to formulate a plan so players, coaches and officials can get back on the field in a safe manner.
Two people named to this panel were Dr. Robert Zayas, the Executive Director of the NYSPHSAA, and Carl Normandin, the executive director of Section 10 Athletics.
“We’re gonna go ahead and assemble an AD-HOC committee, basically a task force to start looking at any issues or problems with the fall season so that way we can go ahead and provide guidance and recommendations to our member schools in the 11 sections of our association,” said Zayas.
One of those sections is Section 10, which encompasses the Northern Athletic Conference.
Section 10 Executive Director Carl Normandin says he foresees a number of issues having to be addressed by that committee before schools can even think about athletes getting back to competition in the fall. They are issues Normandin himself is beginning to look at.
“We’ll be looking at ways in which we would be able to offer interscholastic athletics and some of the protocols that we would need to have in place to successfully and safely pull those events off. With regards to properly cleaning equipment, practice protocols, are we gonna have to continue social distancing which then will impact what our spectator viewership may be at our actual venues,” said Normandin.
Normandin says many fall sports would feel less impact if social distancing is still in place, with one exception: Football.
“Obviously, you can’t social distance in the sport of football, but is there a way that athletes might have to wear face masks in order to continue to participate. I know the National Federation of High School Athletics is looking at possible rule modifications. I don’t know what the game modifications may be, but again tough to speculate,” said Normandin.
With the state facing a budget crisis and schools seeing aid cut, Normandin says he could see a scenario where some schools cut some of the sports they offer due to financial constraints.
“I can see similarly where districts have already been in the process of reducing sport levels of programs. We may not have a number of jv programs that just got started over the last several years. We might just go back to the modified and varsity formats or in some of the sports, you know, if you’re lucky enough to financially be able to pull it off have all 3 levels of participation,” said Normandin.
That’s something Dr. Zayas says he understands, but would like to work with school districts around the state before they begin cutting scholastic sports programs.
“And with high school sports accounting for less than 2 percent of a schools budget, I’m hoping that we can go ahead and make sure school districts truly understand the value and the benefit. But school districts are gonna have some difficult decisions coming up, and I wanna try to provide any assistance that I can as the executive director of our association to those school districts when we’re talking about budgets and we’re talking about the value and benefit of high school sports,” said Dr. Zayas.
Will the Watertown Red and Black have a 2020 Empire Football League season this year?
That question will be answered Monday, when the league will send out a press release announcing their decision on whether or not they will play this season.
The Watertown Red and Black would normally be practicing right now, preparing for their season opener which was slated for the 4th of July at the Alex Duffy Fairgrounds against Utica. But COVID-19 has shut things down for the league since mid-March.