The Alden School Board stepped up in a big way for their student athletes Thursday night at it’s monthly meeting. The members voted unanimously to support the immediate resumption of “high risk” interscholastic sports.

The sports deemed “high risk” by New York State’s health department include basketball, cheerleading, football, hockey, volleyball and wrestling. Earlier this week the “low-moderate” risk, winter sports resumed to action (bowling, boys swim, rifle).

A lawsuit was being filed against New York State by the firm Hogan Willig on behalf of parents, student-athletes, booster clubs and athletic organizations this week to do the same.

It has been a difficult year for high school sports. Since last March, winter sports championships were cancelled hours before tip-off for basketball regional finals and days before puck drop for the hockey state championships. All spring sports were completely wiped out.

During this past fall football, volleyball and cheerleading were deemed “high risk” and administrators were forced to push their seasons back to early spring.

In regards to yesterday’s resolution in Alden, we are hopeful more school districts will push for the same.

In a recent poll of Athletic Directors by WNYAthletics.com, 100% of those that participated were in favor of all sports resuming immediately.

Alden Superintendent Adam Stoltman is the trailblazer. He understands the importance of scholastic sports as its pointed out in the resolution released by the board. “Or board has been discussing a return for all sports since September,” Stoltman said. “We’ve also included musicals as well, not just sports, we’ve been advocating for all extra curricular activities because of their importance.”

The Governor of NYS has stated a number of times during his daily briefings to use the science as the basis for all decisions. The science last fall showed many districts under the .04% infection rate for Covid-19, far below the threshold. The Governor has repeatedly said that schools were the safest place to be, so why no sports? Why not allow the individual school districts the opportunity to make the call on their own. As long as the numbers are low there should be no reason to not have sports. Especially if schools are the safest place for these students?

Most troubling from this corner is the fact that their has been very little push back from local politicians in favor of the student-athletes. Just last winter New York State Senators Sean Ryan and Tim Kennedy busted down the doors of the Section VI office in West Seneca demanding Timm Slade (then Executive Director) to immediately change course on how the football committee drafted a proposed schedule that would have allowed the Buffalo Public Schools a return to the Harvard Cup in 2020.

Where has Ryan or Kennedy been on this subject? The Buffalo Public School students are being hit the hardest, who is speaking up for them now? If and when there is a return to basketball and football will we see McKinley, Bennett, Middle Early College or Olmsted? It would be very hard to picture a football season without a South Park or a basketball season without Health Sciences.

It will be interesting if more Superintendents follow Stoltmans lead or continue to follow the same science as our governor.

Meanwhile, all but 2 states in the country are playing basketball, New York and Illinois. Wrestling and hockey teams are flourishing. Football and volleyball seasons in other parts of the country had little or no issues. Precautions were taken to limit exposure.

The state originally said decisions for sports would be made at the local level. School districts are well prepared to keep athletes, coaches, officials and administrators safe during competition. When will the state allow them the chance to demonstrate it?

 

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