Spring Sports Might Just Be Happening After All

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New Paltz athletes were diligent with their masks all throughout the lost Fall 2020 season. (Photo courtesy of Monica D'Ippolito)

On Jan. 22, the Cuomo administration stated they would be allowing high-risk sport competitions to proceed at the high school level. High-risk sports include basketball, ice hockey, lacrosse, cheerleading, wrestling and even football which was unable to take place during its normal season in the fall.

However, these sports were allowed to begin training on Feb. 1 so long as the local health departments of each county would first give clearings for the training to begin. 

New York state updated their COVID-reopening guidelines for sports and asked the local health departments to consider them and three other criteria when making a decision about reopening: local COVID-19 rates, ability to monitor compliance with the rules and if the U.K. strain of COVID-19 is present in the county. (The U.K. strain is known to spread more easily and quickly than other variants of COVID-19. So far the strain has been found in Saratoga Spring, NY.)

Additionally, there is one more step that needs to happen before the kids are back on the courts. After approval from each county’s health department, it is then up to the superintendents of each school’s district to approve of their schools to compete in the season. Some superintendents seem eager for sports to start as soon as possible while others lay on the more cautious side. Even if the sport seasons do happen, it may not look the same with some districts potentially skipping a year.

As far as New Paltz High athletics go, New Paltz is in Section 9 of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA). Section 9 makes up Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties. Some superintendents in Section 9 are still awaiting an updated version of Ulster County’s Department of Health protocols before making a decision. 

With all this talk about high school athletics, one could start to wonder whether collegiate athletics were put on the back burner. To the delight of many, however, there was a small yet positive update for college athletes as well.

State University of New York (SUNY) Chancellor Jim Malatras is pushing for the allowance of spring sports. Malatras commendedSUNY athletes and all they have done to keep everyone safe throughout the year. He has asked the SUNYAC schools to develop a plan to resume spring athletic competition safely. 

Interim Director of Athletics Matt Giufre said there are currently no major updates for SUNY New Paltz, but that the athletics administration have been and will continue to work on plans for a safe return to competition to present to the president at the end of the month.

If SUNY athletes do get to have a spring sporting season of sorts, it should prove an important point: hard work is rewarded. The athletes at New Paltz and other SUNY schools have demonstrated patience and discipline with the ‘new normal’ and the results speak for itself.