Start of school sports delayed again in Western New York

Dec 9, 2020

Some student-athletes who compete in Section VI sports are seeing their season pushed back once again.

Section VI of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association oversees athletic competition for public schools in Niagara, Orleans, Erie, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties

Jan. 4 is the new start date for all winter sports for Section VI schools following an executive board vote. It pushes low-to-moderate COVID risk sports like bowling, indoor track, swimming, rifle, and skiing from Dec. 14, to a start date with all other winter sports like basketball. Section VI President Brett Banker said it’s an effort to give superintendents and school boards more time to first plan for students to resume in-person classes.

“Their focus is trying to get kids back into the buildings, and we thought it was a stretch to begin December 14 with our low and moderate to risk sports,” said Banker. “That’s the intent to push it out to January 4 to meet with the high risk sports and try to get everything started at the same time.”

Despite two delayments to winter sports already, Banker remained hopeful about a season.

“The Governor’s plan to allow schools to bring kids back, especially K through eight based on the data he sees is somewhat encouraging,” he said. “I’m hopeful that by mid-to-late January, the secondary kids are back in our buildings.”

Banker said it would be hard to imagine schools deciding to compete in athletics without having students in-person for classes.

“For some superintendents and boards of education that is a factor,” said Banker, who also serves as athletic director for the Ken-Ton School District. “It’s a tough sell politically and public relations wise to not be able to open your buildings, but to still offer some athletics.”

Some school districts like Ken-Ton, West Seneca, Buffalo, and Maryvale have not had regular in-person classes since March.