North Country athletes fight for fall sports season

Published: Sep. 19, 2020 at 9:33 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2020 at 8:16 AM EDT
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - New York families are asking the state to lift the ban on high school fall sports deemed “high contact," including football, rugby, volleyball and hockey. Channel 3′s Kiernan Brisson hears from concerned parents and students rallying in Plattsburgh to “Let Them Play.”

Kristin Hanson, who organized the “Let Them Play” rally in Plattsburgh, was joined by a few other families who want to see their children return to their respective sports teams.

“I think there was a lot of unknowns, but as time progressed, I think students just started to feel more and more frustrated about being kept from their friends and the activities that they normally enjoy,” Hanson said.

The athletes fighting for fall sports are from Saranac, Peru, and Plattsburgh High Schools. Parents say they don’t understand why certain sports are allowed, when others are not, especially if they all require close contact.

“It doesn’t make sense. Soccer is allowed to be played but football isn’t,” Hanson said. “I’m a North Country girl, and I can tell you that soccer is a full-contact sport, just like football. So it’s confusing.”

Parents, like Chris Bouvia of Saranac Lake, argue that 37 other states are playing fall sports, like football, to some extent.

“There are several states that are already having football right now, and running full-boar, business as usual, and they’re not having any outbreaks,” Bouvia said. “So there’s no reason we can’t do it here in New York.”

Students and parents believe it would be best to at least attempt a fall sports season, rather than host nothing at all. Jack Hanson, Kristin’s son, says he and his teammates from the Peru Central Senior High School say they would accept whatever form of football the state permits, as long as they get back on the gridiron.

“I think that we should at least give it a shot, and if it doesn’t work then it doesn’t work, but the least we can do is try,” Jack said. “I think we’d be okay with playing flag football. I mean, it wouldn’t be ideal for us, but I think we’d take anything at this point just to be able to play football.”

Families say they will continue to send letters and emails to state representatives asking for change and to allow their student-athletes to return to their favorite fall sports.

Low-Contact sports can begin Monday in New York

Low-contact sports including soccer, field hockey, cross county, tennis, and swimming can start back up again in New York starting Monday.

In August, the head of the New York State Council of School Superintendents urged Governor Cuomo to cancel fall sports. But Cuomo gave the green light for lower-risk sports to take place.

They were able to start practicing, but now will be playing in all regions of the state starting Monday.

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