Coronavirus News: Nassau County postpones all high school fall sports

LONG ISLAND (WABC) -- The governing board for high schools sports in Nassau County has postponed all sports this fall over concerns of spreading the coronavirus.

"We understand it's tough right now to understand, but we feel that it's the best interest and health and safety of our student-athletes," said Section VIII Executive Director Patrick Pizzarelli.

Pizzarelli said board members believe too many unknowns exist regarding how youth sports may contribute to the spread of the coronavirus.

"It happens in Major League Baseball. How many teams have had to postpone games?" Pizzarelli said.

He said his phone was ringing off the hook Wednesday with parents upset with the decision.

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One of them was Joe Marotta whose son plays soccer at H. Frank Carey High School in Franklin Square.

"It's like a slap in the face. Let the kids play," Marotta said.

Marotta said his son has been playing soccer all summer as have kids playing baseball and there have been no cases of coronavirus.

"Not one incident," Marotta said.

"Just like I have been fighting to reopen businesses safely, I know school administrators and athletic directors want to resume school sports, safely. I must defer to the education professionals on resuming school sports. I will continue to communicate with our educators - and look forward to seeing our student athletes back on the fields and courts," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.

Pizzarelli said the plan is to offer high school sports beginning in January and February with winter sports, fall sports such as football, soccer and volleyball will occur in March and April and spring sports like tennis, golf, baseball, softball and lacrosse will take place in May and June.

"We're not canceling anything. We're still going to have three sports seasons, it's just going to be later in the year where maybe they'll know even more about this horrible disease," Pizzarelli said.

Tim O'Hanlon plays football at Garden City High School and was looking forward to playing his senior year.

"We've been playing football all our lives and the fact that we can't end on a good note our senior year is tragic," he said.

Lily Milone is on the kick line at Garden City High School and was also devastated by the news.

"I fought through junior year hoping to have a senior year that was somewhat normal. It's just all fallen apart," Milone said.

Suffolk County's high school sports governing board, Section XI, said Wednesday it will continue with the plan to allow low-risk high school sports to resume September 21.

"I guess the virus knows where the border is between Nassau and Suffolk," Marotta said.

When asked about Suffolk County's decision, Pizzarelli said, "Yes, right now, they're going forward, but we'll see."

On Wednesday, the New York State Council of School Superintendents sent a letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo asking him to postpone high school sports until January 1, 2021, citing concerns of possibly spreading the coronavirus.

"We have struggled to reconcile why students in physical education classes must be 12 feet apart per reopening guidelines, yet contact athletics and other activities that regularly bring athletes into close proximity are deemed safe at this time," wrote Charles Dedrick, the council's Executive Director.

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