By Michael Lewis Editor

The start of the fall high school sports season in New York has been pushed back to Sept. 21 at the earliest, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association announced Thursday.

The decision was made by the organization’s officers following recommendations from the organization’s COVID-19 Task Force in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainly schools will open at its traditional time, usually a time or two after Labor Day.

Since March, everyday life in the state has been thrown upside down. The pandemic wiped out the rest of the spring season. Fall state championship already have been cancelled.

“We recognize this is challenging for everyone, but the decisions made at the state level are based upon data and statewide infection rates all in an effort to stop the spread of COVID and reopen responsibly,” NYSPHSAA executive director Robert Zayas said in a statement. “At this time, Department of Health guidance presented on July 13 prohibits interscholastic athletics across the state. The association will continue to follow state guidance and will work collectively with State officials to ensure high school athletics will start up responsibly in the future. As an association, we must be willing to be flexible and continue to explore all options with students’ safety as our main focus.”

The fall season was supposed to begin Aug. 24.

“As the state considers reopening, it is unrealistic to believe athletic seasons can start on Aug. 24 as originally scheduled,” NYSPHSAA president Paul Harrica said in a statement. “The priority will continue to be on the educational process and a return to learning in the safest way possible.”

If the fall season does not happen, NYSPHSAA has come up with the condensed three-season schedule. Those dates were tentative. Essentially, many fall sports would be moved to the spring.

The proposed schedule (if needed):

Season I (winter sports)

Jan. 4-March 13 (10 weeks)

Basketball (girls and boys), bowling (girls and boys), gymnastics, ice hockey (girls and boys), indoor track and field (girls and boys), skiing (girls and boys), swimming (boys), wrestling

Season II (fall sports)

March 1-May 8 (10 weeks)

Football, cross country (girls and boys), field hockey, soccer (girls and boys), swimming (girls), volleyball (girls and boys), bowling.

Season III (spring sports)

April 5-June 12 (10 weeks)

Baseball, softball, golf (girls and boys), lacrosse (girls and boys), tennis (girls and boys), outdoor track and field (girls and boys).