High School Sports Will Return in 2021

Caroline Williams, Staff Writer

It looks like high school sports will finally be back this winter.  The governing body that oversees Nassau County High School Sports has upheld its decision to postpone all fall sports until 2021.  The Nassau County Section VIII Superintendents Board, a seven-member body that made the original decision, met with the Executive Committee and Athletic Council, agreeing to delay all sports.  

The decision, according to the board, was all about the health and safety of student-athletes, especially given the many unknowns related to COVID-19.  The first sports season of the 2020-21 school year will begin on Jan. 4, 2021.  Sports will continue through the school year, incorporating the three seasons that would normally take place, if that is determined to be safe based on data from the first four months of the school year. 

Under this plan, the fall, winter, and spring seasons will all be played between January and June in condensed seasons.  Winter sports will begin on January 4 and end February 26.  Sports in this season will include girls and boys basketball, girls and boys bowling, gymnastics, cheer,  girls and boys indoor track, boys swimming, and wrestling.  Fall sports will take place between March 1 and April 21, and will include football, girls and boys cross country, field hockey, girls and boys soccer, girls swimming, girls and boys volleyball, girls tennis, girls swimming and boys golf.  Spring sports, occurring between April 5 and June 12, will include baseball, boys tennis, girls golf, softball, girls and boys lacrosse, and girls and boys outdoor track and field.  This season could potentially be extended later into June if the annual Regents exams do not take place this year.  

“The Section VIII governing body established this plan to follow the criteria of seasons in equitable length, room for a culminating champion, and no overlap in regular season play.  The only possible overlap could be only one week if a team is in the county championship.  Those athletes will be able to carry over three practices for their next sport,” said Schreiber Athletics Director Stephanie Joannon. 

The superintendents of Nassau County plan to examine the infection data from the first few weeks of school and may revisit their decision.  The hope is that by the end of 2020, or even earlier, the danger of COVID-19 will have decreased, or a treatment or vaccine will be in circulation.  This would alleviate many of the COVID-related rules and regulations that make holding a sports season before 2021 nearly impossible.  

Many athletes are worried about having enough time to practice before getting into competitions.

There are still too many restrictions set up regarding social distancing, no use of locker rooms or weight rooms, and a limit on sharing equipment and large groups.  We are hopeful some of these restrictions will be lifted in the coming weeks and then we can possibly begin working on a plan for off season conditioning and virtual connections with the teams,” said Ms. Joannon.  

Students are hopeful that the 2020-21 school year will have sports, especially after their disappointment of not having spring sports at the end of last school year.  

“While I was upset when I first heard the volleyball season was postponed, I understand the importance of safety, especially in our school environment.  I only hope that students continue to follow regulations and that we are able to fulfill this new plan,” said senior Catherine O’Sullivan. 

Regarding college recruitment, Nassau is not the only county in the country to be put on this type of pause for sports.  Colleges are aware of this as well, as they have their own set of restrictions on travel and recruiting.  High school athletes have the ability to produce videos of themselves doing skill work to send to coaches as well as video from travel teams.  Communication with college coaches by each athlete is also an important tool to advocate for oneself.  As a way to level the playing field, the NCAA has changed recruitment deadlines to accommodate those colleges that cannot get out and recruit.  

More information will be forthcoming about clearances, schedules, and tryouts in the coming weeks.  While there is still much to figure out, these confirmed dates provide hope and reassurance to student athletes, who had very little information previously.