The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) announced on March 23 that the remaining winter sports championships have been officially cancelled. The tournaments affected by this decision are the boys and girls basketball championships, and the ice hockey and bowling championships.
The decision was made by the officers of the association – President Paul Harrica, First Vice President Julie Bergman, Second Vice President Russell Bartlett and Past President James Osborne – in consultation with Executive Director Dr. Robert Zayas.
Zayas said this was by far the most difficult decision that he has had to make or be a part of in his professional career.
"I think the thing that made it so difficult for me is the fact that I realize that kids are negatively impacted by this," Zayas said. "That's the thing I've had the most difficulty with, is I've seen my daughter – she's in seventh grade – and how much she enjoys participating in sports. It's just a very good example of what kids are dealing with this whole crisis, and it just troubles me that kids are being impacted in the manner that they are."
The Newfield High School boys basketball team was hoping to begin its run at a Class C state title with its regionals game against Weedsport. However, that will no longer be the case with NYSPHSAA's decision on Monday.
Newfield head coach Chris Bubble offered the following statement:
A message from Coach Chris Bubble regarding the cancellation of the state championships. pic.twitter.com/dxsfAaeif3— Newfield Trojans Sports (@NewfieldSports) March 23, 2020
According to the release, there were multiple factors that led to the organization's decision to cancel the championships. Some of those factors were the growing public threat of COVID-19, the Center of Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) mass gathering instructions, Governor Andrew Cuomo's declaration of a state emergency, President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency and the extended school closures.
The 11 sections of the organization's membership shared input in the decision-making process as well. Zayas said while there was interest in further postponing the championships and not canceling them, the sections understood the current situation and that realistically it would be difficult to hold the tournaments.
Zayas said the organization only had two options on the table to consider – further postponement or cancellation. He said the CDC's mass gathering recommendation of preventing mass gatherings of 50 or people from being held made it a much tougher choice to further postpone the tournaments.
"It makes it real difficult to realistically think that we're going to be able to have a winter state championship in the very near future," he said.
He said postponing the tournaments to the summer time would be challenging because school would not be in session, among other difficulties.
"Kids have other things going on," he said. "Vacations could potentially be planned. You could have a situation where a school district no longer has accountability over their kids. Coaches' salaries; transportation; hotel arrangements; when school is not in session all become potential obstacles."
“This is one of the most difficult decisions the Officers of the NYSPHSAA have ever had to make,” Harrica said in the release. “It has been determined it is not feasible for the Winter State Championships to be hosted in a safe and beneficial manner for the participating student-athletes and their teams in the near future. The health and safety of the students we serve will always be our top priority.”
Sections and schools will be deciding individually the start dates and practice guidelines for the spring sports season. NYSPHSAA will announce its decision on the status of the spring state championship on or before Monday April 27.
Zayas also said the organization is planning on honoring the teams that qualified for each tournament with plaques at their next regularly schedule athletics council meeting.