Catholic school high-risk sports teams can start playing again in May, two months after the scheduled start of the spring season, City Hall confirmed on Tuesday.
On Monday, the Department of Education said all public high school sports teams could begin strength and conditioning training in early April and beginning competing the following month. Shortly afterward, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that in order to make up for lost time the spring sports season would be extended until August.
In response to questions from amNewYork Metro, a City Hall spokesperson clarified that the city’s announcement applied to all high school sports citywide in and outside of schools.
Catholic schools have been able to play low-risk sports like golf, swimming and cross-country running and in January, Governor Andrew Cuomo gave the OK for high school sports like football, ice hockey, wrestling and basketball to resume but schools still had to wait for the green light from the mayor who remained silent for weeks after the Catholic High School Athletic Association asked for updates.
As Catholic school communities waited for an answer, CHSAA leadership began passing around an online petition in support of restarting all high school sports last month which has since gathered over 6,700 signatures. In addition, Catholic school coaches, teachers and administrators called on the New York City Council to hold an emergency meeting over the return of high-risk sports.
CHSAA Director Dominick Vulpis said the organization has been anxious to get students back out on the field to help teens regain a sense of normalcy a year into the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s kind of a way to escape everything,” said A’riel Jackson, 16, a Junior at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Fort Greene that plays basketball. “You never know what people might be going through. This pandemic has really messed a lot of people up.” Jackson said she personally wants to play again to get back to “the fun of it” but she knows that many other students use the sport as a way to deal with troubles at home or general stress.
Teenage years are a difficult time for many and being locked away from friends and the uncertainly of the pandemic has only exacerbated depression and anxiety, Vulpis added. “It’s so important to bring the kids back because when you talk to them you know they are hurting, they are emotionally hurting,” said Vulpis. “And we don’t want that anymore, we want to see them back out on the field in a healthy environment.”