Gathering Input On Future Of Winter Championships

New York State Public High School Athletic Association Executive Director Dr. Robert Zayas has asked section executive directors to gather input on the future of the winter championships. The membership feedback should be provided by Sunday evening, with a decision to be released Monday, March 23.

In response to a Twitter post about the news, many student-athletes responded: “Let us play.”

The playoffs had been indefinitely postponed amid concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. This ended state championship title runs for Westhampton Beach’s girls basketball and Center Moriches’ boys basketball teams, among others. It has also postponed the start of the spring sports season.

“We are hoping to get direction,” said Section XI Executive Director Tom Combs, who oversees the governing body of Suffolk County athletics. “We are just hoping we have some sort of spring season with all that has been going on at this time.”

Section V’s Avoca Middle School/High School varsity boys basketball coach Michael Stowe asked the state to consider finding a way to play while remaining smart and safe about the decision.

“For all those small-town kids that won’t get a chance to experience it, please, please, please look for a way,” he said. “I played in states. It’s an experience I still talk about today — 30 years later.”

“It’s about the kids,” Chuck Hoad said. “Let them finish what they started, even if there are no spectators.”

“We all need hope right now,” Sheila Sutton said. “But a shortened season is better than no season.”

Section II’s Saratoga Central Catholic High School baseball coach Chris Steward said school sports isn’t about the adults.

“Athletes in high school can’t just get an extra year like they can in college,” he said. “Think of the athletes. They want to play, they want to showcase their hard work. It’s about the kids and giving them every chance they deserve.”

Some still believe the championships should just be cancelled altogether.

“Do you understand the complexity of the virus?” one person responded. “Safety first.”

Section VI’s Olean High School football coach said “winter sports are done.”

“Are you guys kidding me with this?” he replied to the news on Twitter. “I feel horrible for those kids — I do as a coach — but we need to move on to the spring sports and whether there will be a spring season.”

Ann Marie Kurdzos responded: “Sorry, but I disagree with you. Any good coach — even a spring coach — would advocate for any team to be able to finish the season they started. Winter sports need this for ‘closure.’ They deserve it for all their hard work.”

Some created Change.org petitions to gather signatures in support of extending the season. The New York State Public High School Athletic Association quickly addressed these.

“We have become aware of Change.org petitions related to NYSPHSAA. These petitions have no affiliation to NYSPHSAA and have no impact upon our governing process,” the organization said in a statement. “Some petitions are seeking donations associated with championships and seasons. This is absolutely false.”

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