NYSPHSAA

Just 10 days ahead of the date Gov. Andrew Cuomo said low- and moderate-risk interscholastic school athletics could begin, the fate of the fall season in Section IV remained uncertain.

As the state’s sections continued to debate whether or not to hold fall sports seasons, Section IV had yet to announce a verdict as of the evening of Friday, Sept. 11, while the section’s neighbor to the north, Section III, announced that it would be permitting districts to hold a fall season if they so choose.

Section III Executive Director John Rathbun announced in a media release that 97 of the section’s 104 schools had responded when asked if they were ready to begin fall sports, with 58% of them indicating they were ready while 42% requested a delay until Jan. 1, 2021, per the release.

“We understand the challenges many schools face and the difficult decisions superintendents, principals and athletic administrators are being required to make to keep student-athletes, spectators and sport officials safe,” Rathbun said in the release.

Cooperstown, the lone Section III school in The Daily Star’s coverage area, had already announced its decision to cancel its fall sports season Wednesday. The Section III media release said that districts retained the option of opting out of the season.

“We understand and recognize the issues of equity and access this decision will create for schools and leagues within our section,” Section III President Joseph DeBarbieri said. “For a variety of legitimate and logistical reasons, some school districts may opt out of our fall sports season. In those cases, we respect the individual district decision.”

More locally, area officials remained mum on the topic of Section IV’s fall season. Two of the section’s 70 districts, Oneonta and Norwich, postponed their fall sports seasons before the New York State Public High School Athletic Association released its guidance for how to hold a fall sports season Friday, Sept. 4.

Several sources said predicting how districts would vote is difficult as many districts were still exploring whether or not holding a season would be possible given the guidance passed down from NYSPHSAA.

Possible factors, along public health considerations, include limited resources within athletic departments, transportation concerns and reduced state funding to schools, which Cooperstown noted as a factor in its cancellation announcement.

NYSPHSAA officially postponed high-risk fall sports until March 2021 on Wednesday. The decision affects football, volleyball and competitive cheerleading.

Sources also said that meetings between Section IV and the section’s leagues were ongoing, and that further announcements were expected early next week. There are five leagues in Section IV: Midstate Athletic Conference, Delaware League, Tri-Valley League, Southern Tier Athletic Conference and Interscholastic Athletic Conference.

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