A number of students pleaded with New Paltz Board of Education members to authorize a shortened, pandemic-modified football season this year, but after reviewing the evidence along with the recommendations of the medical director, trustees announced at their February 17 meeting that there was no safe way to handle all the necessary games and practices.
Students wrote in to emphasize how important playing on the football team has been to them personally. The spoke about how the sport is a refuge from personal and family problems, how playing can be used on college applications and leveraged into future careers such as in sports broadcasting and about the value of camaraderie and the lessons of teamwork that are learned on the field. Most of those who submitted comments identified themselves as seniors in high school, meaning that this would have been their last chance to play together.
Board president Glenn LaPolt explained that the particularly close contact required in football was why the district’s medical director recommended against approving the sport for this year. There’s no indoor space that is suitable, and trustees did not consider practicing tackling in a parking lot to be a viable alternative. If there are coaches interested in running a training camp, LaPolt said, then that idea could be explored, but football will not be an intramural sport in New Paltz this year.
Teresa Thompson, for whom a singular devotion to athletics is a badge of honor, expressed sympathy for the players who are missing out on their last chance to play at this level. “I know you’re disappointed,” Thompson said while thanking those who sent in comments describing the value of the game.
Football may be out, but some other sports are now in for shortened seasons. LaPolt responded to comments expressing confusion around what some see as arbitrary decisions; according to the board president, administrators had to evaluate the safety of the sport as well as the facilities available in the district. Some sports didn’t make the cut simply for want of space. Approved sports include girls’ and boys’ varsity soccer, girls’ tennis (if space can be found in Kingston), girls’ and boy’s cross-country, girls’ swimming, girls’ varsity and junior varsity volleyball, as well as girls’ and boys’ golf. There are no modified sports being offered by any section 9 schools, but plans are moving ahead to provide activities for those children. One parent inquired about boys’ lacrosse through the public comment process, but no other sports were specifically named or rejected at the meeting.