WINDSOR TERRACE — The Catholic High School Sports Athletic Association (CHSAA), for both the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Archdiocese of New York, is asking the city council’s Committee on Health to host an emergency hearing in regards to playing high-risk sports locally.
Some seasons for high-risk sports — like basketball, lacrosse, competitive cheerleading, football, ice hockey, volleyball, and wrestling — were scheduled to begin March 1 but are unable to do so due to lack of city guidance.
On Jan. 22, the state Department of Health (DOH) announced high-risk sports could resume on Feb. 1 — but a final decision still needs to be made by New York City health authorities. Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties received clearance from their local county health departments to resume high-risk sports programs.
The silence from Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city’s DOH has been deafening for Brooklyn/Queens CHSAA Executive Director Dominick Vulpis.
“Now that the numbers have fallen and vaccinations are being distributed in communities, we are ready to resume all sports, but we need your help in having our voices heard in New York City,” Vulpis wrote in a letter to city council Health Committee Chair Mark Levine on Feb. 23. “Student-athletes are in need of social, emotional, and physical domains to grow strong and recover from the pandemic.”
Ed Bolan, chairperson of the principals’ committee to the CHSAA, said the lack of communication has been “ridiculous.”
“There’s no reason for not saying ‘you’re good to go’ or ‘this is the reason you can’t,’” Bolan said. “The reason we can’t has to be very specific because, again, we’ve been safely doing this for almost a year now.”
Fordham Prep senior Sean Miller, who plays soccer, basketball, and lacrosse, recently played an entire soccer season, including a championship game. Having played in the fall, he believes high-risk sports should be allowed this season.
“I think New York City should be a leader — or should have been a leader from the beginning — by saying we could have a season with the safe protocols they would put in place,” Miller said. “I think now, more than ever, it’s time to stand up and help our youth be the best we can by giving us a season.”
St. John’s Prep senior Alexandra Tarul, who plays on the girls’ varsity basketball team, has committed to playing for Fordham University next year. She expressed her anxiety over the potential of not being on the same court as her future teammates come next fall.
“You don’t have that routine, and you also don’t have that motivation factor. It’s like you’re sort of in limbo — you never know when your next game is,” Tarul said. “I’ve been struggling a lot.”
The local organization has yet to receive a response from Levine but is ready to collaborate with the state CHSAA to potentially adjust the seasons’ schedules — pending the city’s decision.