Winter Sports: Wishful Thinking?

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With the winter sport season just around the corner for the state of New York, I, and many winter athletes, want to know the true condition and state of the upcoming season. Thanks to our high school’s athletic director, Mr. Barrett, some of the grey areas have been cleared up.

Similar to the fall sports season, there are categories that classify each sport: high risk, moderate risk, and low risk. In the high risk category falls basketball, wrestling, hockey and cheerleading. These sports will be put on hold for this scheduled winter season. Moderate sports include indoor track and field, swim, bowling and gymnastics.  Governor Cuomo has given moderate and low risk sports the green light to start on January 11th. Of course this is assuming no future outbreaks occur at schools throughout the state. 

Unfortunately, the season won’t include the NYSPHSAA (New York State Public High School Athletic Association) Championships. Instead there will only be a smaller, regional playoff. With the season already prolonging its start and only lasting until March 1st,  Barrett says, “We are looking at approximately 10 games for each sport with hopefully a regional playoff similar to the Fall season. That would consist of local teams playing for a championship.” For reference, the fall season playoffs only hosted 8 teams, with one having to leave due to COVID problems. This would limit the number of opponents for the playoffs.

With COVID surging at rates as fast as it is, you would think the protocol would follow a “one strike, you’re out” rule. However, Barrett thinks it will be up to each individual school district to figure out the correct protocol. Looking back to the fall season, our teams were able to make it to the end of the season. In fact, the only games that our teams didn’t play in was because the opposing school had a problem. Not only are we fortunate to be able to compete, our school wants us to compete. Barrett says, “I think it [competing] is great for their [athletes] social emotional well being, their parents and families but it has to be safe and we have to be careful”. Speaking as an athlete, there is no better feeling than to know our school district wants to see us out there and playing. As students of YHS we should all be grateful for how well Dr. Hattar and YCSD has handled the pandemic. Given this gift to play is something not many other student athletes can say about themselves.

For now, many winter athletes and coaches want to make the most of any season they can get their hands on. Seeing fall athletes follow school and athletic protocols, as well as be able to participate in a full season will hopefully motivate the winter athletes to do the same. As of right now, winter athletes will be given the chance to follow in the fall athletes’ footprints. With justified praise from the AD, “ I think they will rise to the occasion and make the most out of that chance”, winter athletes must be psyched up to get on the competitive stage. Both students and teachers at any high school can agree that seeing their team succeed is a good thing. With full support, how will these athletes, geared to persevere and accomplish, handle the spotlight? Given the excellent coaching staff and athletic department, I’d say they are in a great spot

For now, we all mark off days on our calendars for that golden January 11 start date. Not only will it mark the return of sports to YHS, but it will also bring a sense of normality to students and teachers alike. With one of the most anticipated seasons just on the horizon, the whole country will turn to these young athletes for inspiration and entertainment.