While not all that surprising considering the evolving situation, the news out of Section VI was a blow to local high school athletics nonetheless.
On Wednesday, the Section VI Athletic Council voted to pause the start of low and moderate risk winter sports until at least December 14.
“The section remains committed to providing opportunities for our winter athletes,” Brett Banker, President of Section VI, said. “Much like the recently completed fall season when we did all we could, our leadership groups across the section are working tirelessly for our athletes, families and our coaches.”
This comes on the heels of the news on Tuesday when the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) announced the start date for high risk winter sports (basketball, competitive cheer, ice hockey and wrestling) will be moved to January 4, 2021.
“With the reality of where we are statistically, we need to assist our superintendents and other leaders and pause for a moment,” Banker said. “There are great people in the section’s athletic world working on the issues and who are fully cognizant of what these programs mean to kids.”
With the news set forth by New York State on Wednesday afternoon, the move by the Section VI Athletic Council is simply following what had been stated by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Cuomo announced that areas of Western New York are now designated as yellow and orange zones amid the rapid rising of COVID-19 infection rates.
Cuomo announced at a news conference Wednesday that Western New York has the worst COVID-19 situation in the state.
Because of the ongoing issues surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, areas of Erie County are now transitioning to an ‘orange zone’ designation, while areas of Niagara County are now designated ‘yellow zones.’
Daily News coverage teams in Medina and Albion are both in Orleans County but compete in the Niagara-Orleans League in Section IV.
As of now, high risk winter sports remain scheduled to begin on January 4, 2021, for Section VI.
On Tuesday, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association announced that while it still has hopes of high risk sports competing this season, that it was not feasible to begin as of now.
“The NYSPHSAA membership has expressed concerns pertaining to the increase in infection rates,” said Dr. Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA Executive Director. “Minimizing risk and exposure to COVID-19 is a top priority of the Association. We continue to make these types of decisions based upon readily available information and communication with state officials.”
Low and moderate risk winter sport practices (bowling, gymnastics, indoor track & field, skiing, and swimming & diving) are still on schedule to begin on November 30 for those schools and sections who have determined it feasible to host interscholastic athletics at that time.
Section VI is the first section in the state to delay the start of low to moderatre risk sports.