New York’s Nassau County on Long Island has pulled the plug on all high school fall sports in 2020 due to logistics surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, but neighboring Suffolk County intends to go forward, Newsday reported Wednesday.
The superintendents of the county’s New York Public High School Athletic Association Section VIII voted unanimously in an emergency meeting Wednesday morning to push the fall season into early 2021, when they hoped the virus’ transmission had decreased or curtailed by a vaccine.
Nassau, the western of Long Island’s two counties, is the first of New York’s 11 high school sections to postpone high school sports this year.
But in a meeting later in the day, Suffolk County’s Section XI executive board voted unanimously to go ahead as planned.
The decisions were made following guidance from New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday, which approved the running of “lower-risk” high school sports like soccer, tennis, cross country, field hockey and swimming.
Cuomo said New York would allow those sports to begin practicing before a Sept. 21 season start.
But Nassau superintendents said the announcement was overdue to safely conduct fall sports season.
“The timing of the Governor’s decision was too late and it put the superintendents and athletic community in immediate conflict,” Ed Ramirez, the director of athletics for Baldwin (NY) Schools, told Newsday.
“The athletic community wants sports to start and believes kids should have that experience. But to ask school administrators to put that together in such a short period of time, with so many ‘ifs’ still out there, is impossible. Had the Governor given that green light in early August, that would have given us time to prepare. You don’t just throw a switch and it all comes together.”
Suffolk County, in its decision, said it planned to play by Sept. 21 and would adjust if necessary.
Nassau County’s decision elicited protests from residents.
Later Wednesday, New York State Council of School Superintendents submitted a letter to Cuomo asking that he postpone all sports until Jan. 1.
The NYSPHSAA will meet to discuss its statewide options on Tuesday.
Sixteen state high school associations, including the District of Columbia, have delayed some or all of their fall sports to 2021. Seventeen states, including Vermont, will not play football this fall.