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Regents cancellation could impact spring sports

Regents cancellation could impact spring sports

School closures, Section II athletics start date, extended
Regents cancellation could impact spring sports
Ballston Spa's Chance Checca hits during a 2019 game.
Photographer: Erica Miller

Whether Monday's cancellation of June Regents examinations will allow for an extension of the deadline for a potential end to the high school spring sports season is not yet known, New York State Public High School Athletic Association executive director Robert Zayas said Monday afternoon.

What's known, though, is that no area high school teams will be playing any games or scrimmages until May at the earliest because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as Section II announced Monday that its competition suspension had been expanded to run through April 30 after initially being set to go until April 19. That Section II announcement was made on the same day that Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that mandatory school closures were extended until at least April 29.

"With this information — Regents being canceled and school closed until April 29 —  I try hard not to make decisions when information is just released," Zayas said. "A lot of my colleagues are doing that and they have to reverse."

The June Regents have annually served as a cutoff date for spring sports championships in New York, so their cancellation introduces a chance spring sports seasons — if they ever start — could end later than usual. At the moment, this year's spring state championships are all scheduled to conclude by June 13, and the NYSPHSAA previously set April 27 as a deadline for itself to determine if it will be feasible for the organization to sponsor them.

"We'll know a little more after NYSPHSAA makes that decision," Section II executive director Ed Dopp said.

Dopp met with his committee and Section II's league presidents Monday to discuss possible contingency plans for play should the spring season get underway at some point.

"We had a good discussion, but it's all 'what-if' scenarios," Dopp said. "With news coming out about the Regents, we still don't know when interscholastic sports have to be done by."

Should schools reopen sometime this spring and athletics be restored, Zayas is urging the state's member sections to place an emphasis on regular-season play rather than postseason play. Zayas sent a memo out March 23 to the section's executive directors urging that point.

"That still rings true," Zayas said.

Zayas wrote in that memo: "When schools are able to return, students will need a sense of normalcy and providing them with any semblance of a regular season will be beneficial to them and their community; senior nights, practice, team dinners and wearing a school uniform should be the focus of interscholastic athletic programs following the COVID-19 crisis."

Dopp said during his meeting Monday that different regular season and playoff scenarios were discussed.

"We're not ready to throw in the towel on sectionals and states," Dopp said. "But time is running out. The day we go back [to school] is not the day we start competition."

The NYSPHSAA in late March waived the seven-consecutive-day rule for the 2020 spring sports season, which means teams would be able to practice and play games on seven consecutive days during the regular season rather than needing at least one off day every week.

Shortly after hearing that the June Regents had been canceled, Zayas wrote on his Twitter page: "June Regents canceled. Schools closed until April 29th. Signs of curve flattening. Let’s stay optimistic. We need students in classrooms in order for them to participate in sports. Practicing social distancing increases the likelihood of spring sports being a reality."

Reach Jim Schiltz at [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.

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