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Nassau County postpones H.S. sports until 2021

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Nassau County High School student-athletes will have to wait until 2021 to compete in sports.

At an emergency meeting held Wednesday morning, Nassau school superintendents voted to postpone high school sports until Jan. 4, becoming the first of the state’s 11 sections to move its fall season.

“I believe other sections will follow and pull the plug, but I can’t speak for anyone else,” said Section VIII (Nassau) Executive Director of Athletics Pat Pizzarelli. “We felt strong enough to make this decision now,” he added. “We took the cautious route, but we believe it’s in everyone’s best interests. There are too many unknowns.

“It’s just not time to allow kids to play sports,” he continued. “And my first and foremost concern is the safety of our student-athletes.”

The decision comes two days after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo issued guidance permitting lower-risk high school fall sports (soccer, tennis, swimming, field hockey and cross-country) to begin practice and play on Sept. 21, while noting football and volleyball could begin practice but not play.

However, the superintendents did not consider the current conditions safe enough to conduct any fall sports. The seven-person committee of Nassau County officials voted unanimously to postpone.

“It was never a consideration to try playing even the lower-risk sports,” Pizzarelli said. “Transportation is a big issue. There are a lot of issues.”

The plan, Pizzarelli said, is to play all three sports seasons between January and June, when, hopefully, the threat of Covid-19 has decreased. He said Section VIII will create its own contingency model and aim to limit season overlaps to one week at the most.

“We’ll look to get started Jan. 4 with the traditional winter sports, including basketball and wrestling,” Pizzarelli said.

Each sports season will be condensed, running approximately nine weeks. The fall sports will be played in the second season and spring sports would be third as usual. Last year’s spring season was nixed March 16, after just one week of practice, due to coronavirus.

“There are going to be protocols in place for every sport, including busing, locker rooms, athletic trainers, coaches, fan attendance – everything,” said Baldwin Schools Director of Athletics Ed Ramirez.