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High school sports delayed until 2021, Section XI announces

There will be no high school sports in Suffolk County for the remainder of 2020.

Section XI, the governing body for the county’s high school sports, announced Friday morning that all sports will be postponed until Jan. 4 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The decision aligns with Section 8, the governing body of Nassau County sports.

The decision was made in conjunction with Section XI’s Athletic Council, athletic directors, Safety Committee and Suffolk County Executive Board.

“While this was a difficult decision, we feel it was the best move for the health and safety of everyone involved,” Section XI Executive Director Tom Combs said in a statement.

The reasons behind the decision included the potential for increased positive cases of COVID-19, as well as “the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, officials and staff members, a reduced number of spectators, a lack of locker room and facility use, increased costs in transportation and security for school districts and equity among all school districts,” according to Section XI.

Section XI will plan to run three seasons, starting with winter from Jan. 4 to Feb. 27 for varsity and junior varsity. The fall sports season will run from March 1 to May 1. And the spring season will run from April 26 to June 19.

Guidance from the New York State Public High School Athletic Association allowed individual sections to resume fall sports on Sept. 21. Football, volleyball and competitive cheer were excluded.

Riverhead High School is already facing a year without sports after two failed budget votes. In a tied vote Tuesday night, the Riverhead Board of Education rejected a proposal that would have saved high school clubs, music and sports through tapping into reserve funds.

The Shoreham-Wading River football team would have opened this season as the defending Class IV Long Island champions after winning the fourth title in program history last fall.

“We still have a lot of hard work ahead in planning and executing on the three seasons across six months in 2021, but we look forward to the challenge and collaboration with our member schools and providing an impactful experience for our student-athletes and coaches.”

There will be four seasons for modified sports.

Season 1 (winter): Jan. 4-Feb. 6

Season 2 (late winter): Feb. 8-March 20

Season 3 (fall): March 22-May 8

Season 4 (Spring): May 10-June 12

High school sports ended last March just as the spring season was getting underway as schools began to close due to the pandemic. The latest decision means nearly 10 months will have passed between any games in Suffolk County.

The decision by Section 8 has already been met with pushback. Newsday reported that the Massapequa school district has filed a lawsuit to overturn the athletic board’s decision.