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Section 2 pushes start date for winter sports to Dec. 14

LATHAM — Just two weeks before the scheduled start date of Nov. 30 for the high school winter sports practices, Section 2 announced that low/moderate risk sports practices will now begin on Dec. 14. The high risk sports official start date will also be Dec. 14, pending approval from the New York State Department of Health for competition.

If there is not approval to compete, the official start date will be pushed to Jan. 4, still pending approval to compete.

The Section 2 Executive Committee, with input from New York State Department of Health, New York State Education Department, New York State Public High School Athletic Association, school administrators, athletic directors, sport coordinators and Section II sport officials, had made the decision to begin the winter sport season Dec. 14, in accordance with the Governor’s and New York State Department of Health approvals. The high risk sports will not be given approval to start until the New York State Department of Health approves them for competition.

Section II winter sport offerings include the following low/moderate level risk sports: bowling, gymnastics, indoor track and field, nordic skiing, alpine skiing, and boys swimming and diving. The section is waiting on approval to compete for the high-risk sports of boys basketball, girls basketball, cheerleading, ice hockey, boys winter volleyball and wrestling.

Section 2 President Joseph Sapienza had guided the Executive Committee with the focus on the section’s mission statement, which is Our primary goal is to provide safe quality experiences which foster sportsmanship for our student-athletes, coaches, fans and school communities.

“The section’s goal through all of this is to be able to provide a safe opportunity to participate in all of our sport offerings,” Sapienza said in a news release.

This decision had been made with an understanding of the many challenges school districts and those involved in interscholastic athletics will face.

“With the guidance we currently ace and the commitment to a high level of compliance with that guidance, we can safely provide that opportunity,” Section 2 Executive Director Ed Dopp said in the release. “We understand that for a variety of reasons some school districts may opt out of our winter sport offerings. In those cases, we respect and support the individual district decision.”

The winter 2020-21 season will begin Dec. 14, and un through Feb. 28. The season will focus on regular-season play, primarily with league competition. Reduced (participation) and condensed (time) section competition will only take place if the NYSPHSAA is offering state championships. If there are no state championships, the section will encourage and support its leagues and schools to engage in league-culminating events, all of which will conclude by Feb. 28.

It is Section 2’s hope and goal that winter sports will be able to complete a good portion, if not all, the maximum allowable contests. Should there be an interruption or a need to shut down, the section will address those circumstances, at that time.

With the Fall 2 season running from March 1 to April 30, and spring sports running from May 1 through June 30, it is likely that winter sports, if postponed, will not have additional opportunities.

The section has and will continue to distribute the New York State Department of Health, NYSPHSAA, CSC, NFHS and COVID-19 guidances to its member schools so that they can supplement their individual school district re-opening plans and provide the safest environment possible.

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