(WIVB-TV) — High school athletes are preparing to return back to the field after school begins, but one group is pushing lawmakers to reconsider allowing high school sports to start.
The state is allowing several high school sports to begin on September 21st and is leaving it up to each individual school district on how thet want to move forward with that, but South Park high school football coach Tim Delaney believes every school district should be on the same page.
“Whether that’s playing now or pushing it back, but that everybody is doing the same thing and that doesn’t seem to be the case right now,” he said.
Although high school athletes can start practicing again in a month, they all can’t compete. High-risk sports such as football, volleyball and cheerleading still has to wait. Delaney says that will just end up affecting students.
“The thing for coaches is that we’ll get another season, we’ll get to coach at some point but the kids that are going to be seniors that’s whose losing out right now,” Delaney said.
The New York State Council of School Superintendents don’t want high school sports to start at all, including games and practices.
“There’s a lot of disappointment and that’s understandable but I’d also say a concern is that if a problem arises for whatever reason there’s infections and it becomes necessary to shut down a school that’s going to disrupt athletics as well,” said Deputy Director Robert Lowry.
The council sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday asking him to delay the start of high school sports until Jan. 1, 2021.
“I say any additional time would be desirable,” Lowry said. “Let us get schools up and running and get some of these other practices in place that we need to have in order to make sure schools start safe.”
The superintendents believe that starting high school sports too early could jeopardize the start of in-person learning.
“We have struggled to reconcile why students in physical education classes must be 12 feet apart per reopening guidance, yet contact athletics and other activities that regularly bring athletes into close proximity are deemed safe at this time,” the letter said.
They believe the challenges that high school sports will face –like crowds, locker rooms and transportation — will be too much to handle while also trying to bring students back to school.
Students need to be in school, with their friends and teachers as soon as possible. School leaders need to be focused on this effort and not have their attention diverted to extracurricular activities at this moment. It is our view that school athletics will risk this endeavor and that is not a compromise we believe should be taken.Letter to the governor from The Council of School Superintendents
The superintendents emphasized that they are not calling for a full cancellation of high school sports at this time. They are asking for a delay in all school athletics until Jan. 1, 2021.
As we approach the new year, we should collaborate with all stakeholders to develop and agree on a plan to consolidate all three athletic seasons into the second semester so that student-athletes have an equitable opportunity to participate in the sport of their choice.Letter to the governor from The Council of School Superintendents
You can read the full letter to the governor below:
Delaney says he understand how important it is to keep students safe and healthy and that coaches across Western New York will make sure the guidelines are followed.
“That’s what it really boils down to we all hope that we can play but I think the majority of people understand that it’s an unprecedented situation and people are trying to proceed with as much caution as possible,” he said.
Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.