CANTON — After bringing organized athletics at all levels to an abrupt end last March, the coronavirus pandemic is already wreaking havoc with the start of the 2020-21 high school winter sports season in Section 10.
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association announced on Nov. 17 that the starting date for high-risk sports like basketball, hockey and wrestling were postponed to Jan. 4. Now, low-to-moderate risk sports like bowling and boys swimming have been pushed back to January for Section 10 teams.
The state said that those sports that were not high risk could start practicing this past Monday, but Section 10 has now put all winter sports programs on hold.
“We have three teams in our section for boys swimming — Canton, Gouverneur and Malone — and all three have gone to remote learning, so it was decided to push the start to January,” said Carl Normandin, the executive director of Section 10. “It’s the same thing for bowling. All of our teams in Section 10 are from Franklin County schools and they are all doing remote learning until January 4th.”
Schools scheduled to field bowling teams this winter include Brushton-Moira, Chateaugay and Malone, along with first-year program Salmon River.
While the start for low to moderate risk sports hinges on the reopening of area school districts to in-person learning, the opening date for high risk athletics continues to be more tentative as state and local health officials work on providing more specific protocols for ice hockey, basketball and wrestling. The 2020-21 Section 10 indoor track season has already been canceled due to a lack of access to area collegiate facilities at St. Lawrence University in Canton and SUNY Potsdam.
“We are still in more of a holding pattern for the high risk sports,” Normandin said. “The concerns have more to do with the venues at this point. We were able to have soccer games and there is close physical contact in soccer but a soccer field is bigger than any basketball court or hockey rink and it’s not in a confined area. The shared air space of indoor sports is still an issue.”
“At this point, we’re just taking things one step at a time and waiting until the state dictates to us when we could start and what we need to do to get the high risk sports up and going for the winter season. “And, more than likely, the decision to have sports is going to be up to each individual section.”