After 22 days of wondering if the Sept. 21 date permitted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the start of most fall sports would actually see the start of anything at all, student-athletes in Section IV got their answer.
Section IV announced Tuesday, Sept. 16, it was postponing its fall sports season after a vote by the section's 70 districts adopted a proposal that pushed the fall season to March 2021.
According to a media release from Section IV, 59 schools voted in favor of postponing while 10 voted against postponement and one district abstained. The release said the vote reflected "the interest of student health and safety" as well as "financial concerns due to New York State aid and Education cuts."
The section's announcement arrived minutes after the Tri-Valley League went public with its decision to postpone its fall athletics season, making it the last of the section's five leagues to postpone. A letter from Laurens Superintendent Bill Dorritie, featuring language shared by statements from other TVL administrators, said the league's 11 districts voted unanimously to postpone the fall season to March 1.
"It is our position that safely bringing students back into the building for academics is paramount and should take precedent over any efforts to resume athletic competition," the letter said, also citing discrepancies between distancing guidelines set forth by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association and the inherent lack of distancing in a sport like soccer.
"While the postponement of our fall athletic seasons is certainly disappointing," the letter continued, "should the health and safety in our region allow for us to resume athletics we look forward to giving our student-athletes the opportunity to participate in three sports seasons determined by Section IV with sectional play available for all three seasons."
The section-wide postponement was all but certain as of Monday after the section's four other leagues all announced plans to postpone the season, making a majority vote to postpone very likely. The Midstate Athletic Conference and Delaware League announced postponements Monday while the Interscholastic Athletic Conference and Southern Tier Athletic Conference each made announcements over the weekend.
The postponement means that all Section IV fall sports will be contested in what is being called the "fall two" season by NYSPHSAA, which will begin March 1. NYSPHSAA moved all fall high-risk sports (volleyball, football and competitive cheerleading) to the fall two season on Sept. 9.
Meanwhile, surrounding sections have voted to start low- and moderate-risk fall sports Sept. 21. As of Wednesday night, Sections VIII, IX, and XI were the only others that had postponed sports on a section-wide level.
Section IV Executive Director Ben Nelson told The Daily Star on Monday that the section was not addressing the start of winter sports, despite the MAC and STAC postponing all sports until January. On Aug. 31, NYSPHSAA moved the winter sports start date from Nov. 16 to Nov. 30.