by Dave Warner

Return to Interscholastic Athletics 2020-2021

The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) has released its “Return to Interscholastic Athletics 2020-2021” document, and it’s forty-one pages of rules and regulations that are meant to serve as a resource on how schools ‘may’ consider bringing sports back.

As they continue to gather information pertaining to the COVID-19 virus and receive feedback, they have stated that the document may be revised. They state, “participation in interscholastic athletics is certainly voluntary for both the individual and the schools. NYSPHSAA recognizes school district superintendents and boards of education have the authority and autonomy to administer their district’s athletic programs as they deem appropriate.”

The state department of health has categorized sports and recreation activities into three categories, Low risk, moderate risk, and high risk.

Low Risk (NYSDOH)

  • Lower risk sports and recreation activities are characterized by:
    o Greatest ability to maintain physical distance and/or be performed individually;
    o Greatest ability to (1) avoid touching of shared equipment, (2) clean and disinfect any equipment between uses by different individuals, or (3) not use shared equipment at all…

Moderate Risk (NYSDOH)

  • Moderate risk sports and recreation activities are characterized by:
    o Limited ability to maintain physical distance and/or be done individually;
    o Limited ability to: (1) avoid touching of shared equipment, (2) clean and disinfect equipment between uses by different individuals, or (3) not use shared equipment at all…

High Risk (NYSDOH)

  • Higher risk sports and recreation activities are characterized by:
    o Least ability to maintain physical distance and/or be done individually;
    o Least ability to (1) avoid touching of shared equipment, (2) clean and disinfect equipment between uses by different individuals, or (3) not use shared equipment at all…

Lower and moderate-risk sports (e.g., tennis, soccer, cross country, field hockey, and swimming) may practice and play, effective September 21, 2020. However, travel for practice or play is prohibited outside of the school’s region or contiguous regions/counties until October 19, 2020. Higher-risk sports (e.g., football, wrestling, rugby, hockey, and volleyball) may practice, effective September 21, 2020, but not play until authorized at a later date, but no later than December 31, 2020; in accordance with the State-issued guidance, such practices are limited to individual or group, no-to low-contact training (e.g., skills development) whereby contact between players may only be incidental and any activities that are specifically designed to promote close physical contact are prohibited.

This is how the calendar looks at the moment:

Fall Sports (September 21st – TBD)

  • Sections determine Fall sports end date; cannot exceed 15 weeks
  • No Regional/ State championships
  • Practice requirements – 10 practices for all Fall sports; 12 for Football & Gymnastics; training for Golf
  • Low & moderate risk sports (Cross Country, Field Hockey, Golf, Gymnastics, Soccer, Girls Swimming & Diving, Girls Tennis)
    o May practice
    o In accordance with approved NYSPHSAA rules, teams must play games within their section or league until October 19th; games may be played beyond a school’s section or league after October 19th
  • High-risk sports (Cheerleading, Football, Volleyball)
    o May practice
    o May not participate in games
  • In accordance with approved NYSPHSAA rules, seven consecutive day rule waived starting on October 12th
  • Game/ Contest limits – no change
  • Modified/ Junior Varsity – individual school district decision

Winter Sports (November 30th – TBD)

  • Revised start date of Monday, November 30th
  • Sections determine Winter sports end date; cannot exceed 22 weeks
  • State Championships as scheduled (Subject to change)

Spring Sports (March 15th – TBD)

  • Sections determine Spring sports end date; cannot exceed 15 weeks
  • State Championships as scheduled (Subject to change)

Rules for students, athletes, coaches, parents, spectators and officials

There are also rules for student-athletes, coaches, parents, officials, and spectators.

For students, they must ensure a distance of at least six feet is maintained among individuals at all times, whether indoor or outdoor, unless safety or the core activity (e.g. practicing, playing) requires a shorter distance. If a shorter distance is required, individuals must wear acceptable face coverings, unless players are unable to tolerate a face covering for the physical activity (e.g. practicing, playing); provided, however, that coaches, trainers, and other individuals who are not directly engaged in physical activity are required to wear a face covering.

They must tell their coaches immediately if they are not feeling well, and there is no hugging, high fives, shaking hands, or fist bumps.

For coaches, they must ensure a distance of at least six feet is maintained among individuals at all times, whether indoor or outdoor, unless safety or the core activity (e.g. practicing, playing) requires a shorter distance. If a shorter distance is required, individuals must wear acceptable face coverings, unless players are unable to tolerate a face covering for the physical activity (e.g. practicing, playing); provided, however, that coaches, trainers, and other individuals who are not directly engaged in physical activity are required to wear a face covering.

They must also provide clear expectations to students and parents, and also refrain from hugging, high fives, shaking hands, and fist pumps.

Spectators must maintain six feet of physical distance between individuals and/or family/household units at all times and all spectators must wear face coverings when they are in common areas and situations where six feet of distancing is not able to be maintained, so long as they are over the age of two and medically able to tolerate such covering.

Officials are responsible for game management, which does not include monitoring activities on the sidelines, such as social distancing, face coverings, hand washing, symptoms of illnesses, and other such issues. This monitoring obligation remains with the responsible parties.

The complete document can be read below.

Return To Interscholastic Athletics FINAL 090420