Thursday, 17 December 2020 16:13

State of Winter Sports

By Megin Potter | Sports
Saratoga Blue Streaks varsity hockey team in the Don Kauth Memorial 2019 Tournament. Photo by Super Source Media. Saratoga Blue Streaks varsity hockey team in the Don Kauth Memorial 2019 Tournament. Photo by Super Source Media.

After completing a successful Fall Season, the start of Winter sports this week has area high schools navigating another new set of challenges.

“It was a season that was successful for the Suburban Council across all the sports. The stance the entire league took was to protect the season. It was not intentionally more strict than what anyone else was doing. We took all the guidance from the State and local agencies, and used our professional judgement to do what we felt was the right thing to do,” said Nicholas McPartland, Athletic Director for the Saratoga Springs City School District.

On Friday, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) announced the postponement of all high-risk sports until authorization is granted by state officials. 

The New York State Department of Health has determined basketball, boys’ lacrosse, competitive cheerleading, football, ice hockey, volleyball, and wrestling to be high-risk. 

On Dec. 11, it was announced that high-risk winter sports would begin on Jan. 4. The increase in COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates across the State however, has now postponed the start-date of high-risk sports indefinitely.

Low- and moderate-risk sports began practices this week. 

In Saratoga Springs, these include bowling, girl’s gymnastics, Alpine and Nordic skiing, and boys’ varsity swimming/diving (modified is not being offered at this time due to a lack of swimming pool availability).

“While preventative measures have been put in place in our school, we are still working through some of the hurdles that have come up. For the indoor sports, there is inherently a little bit of risk involved, but we felt it was important to salvage the opportunity to have these, as so many other opportunities have been lost for our kids this year,” said McPartland.

Safety concerns associated with increased travel, venue capacity limitations, and social distancing restrictions has also led NYSPHSAA to cancel the 2021 Winter State Championships.

“When examining the feasibility of Winter State Championships, it became apparent that travel and overnight accommodations would create a unique challenge for our member schools,” said Dr. Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA Executive Director. “At this time, we must prioritize maximizing student participation without a focus on championship events.”

Echoing this sentiment, as well as the desire to protect local businesses, families, and others in the community, school-to-school competitions will be adjusted accordingly. 

Bowling and swimming meets will be held virtually until at least Jan. 31. While the details of the girls’ gymnastics matches are still being determined, competing teams will likely have staggered start times to allow for equipment cleaning and sanitizing.

The start of the Fall 2 Season in March, and the 2021 NYSPHSAA Spring State Championships remain scheduled at this time. 

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