By Monday March 23, the Newfield High School boys basketball team should know whether or not it will continue its campaign for a Class C state title this year. In the meantime, one local resident is trying to get the word out on what Newfield inhabitants, and New York citizens as a whole, hope NYSPHSAA will choose to do with this situation.
Austin Kuczek started a petition on Change.org to call on NYSPHSAA to postpone the boys basketball state championships, along with the other winter sport championships, to a later date, rather than cancel them all together. The winter championships are currently on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Kuczek posted the petition on the website on March 17. In less than 24 hours it garnered 250 signatures. Currently, the signature count is approaching 300 at 295.
Kuczek said after seeing online petitions going around about having the spring sport season postponed rather than cancelled, he felt compelled to start one for the boys basketball championships.
“With me being a big part of the Newfield community here at work and at the school district, being close with a lot of the guys on that team, and coach Chris Bubble is one of my good friends, I said, ‘I really want to try to bring some awareness to this,’” Kuczek said. “I thought after I [saw] the spring season one made, I said, ‘Well, I’ll make one for the winter championships, too.”
Kuczek said he hopes the administrators at NYSPHSAA see all of the signatures gathered from not only his petition, but also the other petitions regarding the winter championships as well as the spring season, and take them into consideration when making their decision.
However, Dr. Robert Zayas, Executive Director of NYSPHSAA, said no petitions will be considered when making the decision. Zayas said the only input the organization will be considering is the input from its 800 membership high schools.
“We don’t even consider a petition if it had 100,000 names on it,” Zayas said. “It’s not something that we would sit down and take a look at. It’s just not the way we operate.”
While he knows how much the athletes and the fans from the community would love to see the team’s season continue, Kuczek said he understands the health and safety of the masses should be prioritized over playing basketball games.
“If the higher ups think it’s best that we don’t play and we don’t have the mass group of people and all that, I know I will try to accept that decision,” he said. “But it’ll be hard to know that you’ve come this close to a state championship again, and to have circumstances like this happen, it’s kind of hard to take down, if they decide to cancel.”