Watertown, Indian River vote to postpone fall sports season

Updated: Sep. 9, 2020 at 5:10 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - North country high schools are responding to a survey that will determine if Section 3 fall sports will get postponed because of COVID-19.

It could be a while before players hit the field for games and practices. While a final decision is still to come, schools get a vote. We’ve learned Watertown school officials voted to postpone the season and there are other schools voting that way too.

Some fall sports like soccer were supposed to start September 21, but Section 3 schools are concerned about the COVID-19 guidance they got from the New York State Public High School Athletic Association last week.

“There is just an awful lot that they have to consider in such a short period of time. So there are still a lot of unanswered questions on how they can actually do those safely and still meet the guidelines that were established by the department of health,” said John Rathbun, executive director, Section 3 Athletics.

So Section 3 is asking its more than 100 schools to vote on one of three options:

- Option 1: Go ahead with fall sports, higher risk sports like football can only practice

- Option 2: Allow fall sports to start but exclude football, volleyball and cheerleading

- Option 3: Postpone fall sports until after Christmas vacation

The Watertown City School District voted to postpone the fall season.

“There’s a lot of factors that went into the decision. Part of our thought process went to phys ed classes. In phys ed classes, students have to stay 12-feet apart. The guidelines for sports don’t require that. We thought that contradiction was a bit of an issue,” said George Emrich, athletic director, Watertown High School.

School officials say sporting events present transportation issues and there’s concern about mixing students who go to school on different days.

Meanwhile, the Indian River School District also voted to postpone the fall season.

“It was difficult because we want to be able to offer sports and athletic activities to our students and we know that the more we offer those activities to students the better off they are in terms of their academic learning and performance,” said Mary Anne Dobmeier, superintendent, Indian River Central School District.

Indian River is looking at ways to provide athletic opportunities within the district while Watertown’s message to athletes is:

“I know that you really want to play. I know sports are important. I would to ask them on their own to keep working hard and I would ask them to keep your hopes up and we will have a season one way or an other at some point,” said Dobmeier.

Those survey responses are due Thursday afternoon. On Friday, the Section 3 committee will make a decision on the fall sports season.

If the season does happen, schools will still be able to make individual decisions on whether to participate.

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