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Border Country Sports Blog-August 13

Good Morning! With the Border Country Sports Blog, I'm Keith Harrington.

New York High School Sports to Return to Normal This Fall.....Or Not!

Just when you thought it was safe to begin looking forward to the start of high school sports practices on August 23rd on the New York side of the border. In the words of ESPN college football analyst Lee Corso, "Not so fast my friend."

On July 27th the New York State Public High School Athletic Association announced that high school sports this fall would not be impacted by Covid-19 regulations. NYSPHAA Executive Dr. Robert Zayas stated that high school sports would begin as scheduled on August 23rd and the state championships are scheduled for the 2021-2022 seasons.

Yesterday however the New York State Education Department (NYSED) may have put a damper on those expectations, namely for high risk sports. Thursday NYSED provided insight on how they think sports and extracurricular activities should be handled. Even suggesting that high-risk sports should be cancelled in areas of high Covid transmission rates.

It is important to point out that these are recommendations to the schools and not directives.

“High-risk sports and extracurricular activities should be virtual or cancelled in areas of high community transmission unless all participants are fully vaccinated," the statement read.

Cancelled? Are you kidding me? The proof is already out there that they can be completed safely for crying out loud!

Football, wrestling, volleyball and hockey are among the sports considered high risk.

NYSED recommended prevention strategies like not participating when sick and screenings for individuals not fully vaccinated. The guidance noted that playing outdoors is safer when it comes to transmission of the virus, but when required to be near other athletes for an extended period, there is still a concern that the virus can spread. Lower and medium-risk sports such as golf, cross country and soccer would be allowed to play during their allotted seasons with some qualifications.

NYSPHAA was quick to issue a response. The statement read:

"We encourage our member schools to utilize this document and consult with with local health departments as they plan for the 2021-2022 fall intershcolastic sports season scheduled to begin on August 23rd. NYSPHSAA will continue to work with the state officials to ensure student athletes have a safe and successful academic and athletic school year.

I am not one who downplays the seriousness of the virus. I have been vaccinated as has all of my family. I have been a follower of the guidlines since day one of this mess. I don't get into the political aspects of it or conspiracy theories. I don't argue with people I don't know on social media about it. Or with people I do know for all that matters. So don't try. You;ll get no response. I have not said one thing about my poltical beliefs or party affiliation on social media in years, and won't. My blog is meant to be a place to promote our local high school students-athletes in a positive way, not discuss the issues of our divided nation. Period!

In the words of one of my favorite authors Jon Katz, "I will always be happy to speak with people who I respect and respect me. I'll shovel the others out of my life and out of my blog like manure out of a barn."

That being said, it was proven last winter and spring that high school sports could be operated safely. There were very few pauses locally during the high school sports Winter, Fall II and Spring seasons. It pretty much went off without a hitch. Summer and travel ball was held successfully. We have had the Olympics in Japan. I have been on vacation in Tennessee with mobs of people. I have been a regular at Saratoga Race Course this summer and have seen no major issues that I am aware of. The Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl football game between New Hampshire and Vermont was held in a stadium with hudreds of people. If we can these events safely. If we can have county fairs, we can have high school sports.

Our student-athletes need this. For their mental and physical health. Heck, I need this myself. Going to the games last spring was like my own personal therapy. Here's hoping high school sports return safely to as close to full force as possible. Anything less would be a disaster.

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