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Tioga County Sports Report
Count Waverly coach Jason Miller and Tioga coach Nick Aiello among those who believe New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s edict to move the start date of the football season to March 1 as a bad move.

“It’s a bad decision,” said Miller. “My fear is that here we sit with virtually no number of Covid cases, and we’re postponing the season — for what?

“I’m trying to figure it out. Are the numbers going to be any better in March? Probably not,” noted Miller.

“It’s frustrating to think that there are people running our state athletics … I don’t know where their heart is. Looking at the numbers, I don’t know how they could possibly justify this decision,” added Miller. “I really thought the Section would be able to make the decision. Now, we can’t make that decision.”

“It’s been a wild two weeks when it comes to New York State Public High School athletics,” said Aiello. “It’s too bad for the kids, and it’s too bad for the communities that were looking to get some sense of normalcy.”

I think it came about because of a perfect storm of happenings,” he noted. “The governor’s announcement allowing for sports was very vague, and it sent people running around trying to figure out, in a very short time, how to get sports going.

“Then, you have the governor’s 20-percent withholding (of state aide) that I believe had schools worried, in terms of finances.

“On top of that, you have schools opening — so many schools do so many different things to re-open classrooms that I think with the short window, it was just a little too much,” Aiello added.

Both Miller and Aiello believe a letter sent to Governor Cuomo by the New York State Council of School Superintendents calling for a delay in all sports until Jan. 1 played a part in NYSPHSAA’s decision.

“I think the Superintendents’ letter, which was signed by nearly every Superintendent down state, certainly had an influence on this decision,” said Miller. “It’s speculation, but common sense tells us they dictate what everyone does.”

“I think a lot of the Superintendents around the state really pushed — not just the high-risk sports, but all sports to that Jan. 1 start date,” Aiello said.

Like Miller, Aiello can’t see the justification for Wednesday’s announcement.

“Everything we’ve heard is everything is it’s being done by the numbers, by the data, by science, but what we don’t hear is what numbers are controlling the decisions being made in terms of sports. We never heard what the infection rate would have to be for sports.

“I’m surprised they didn’t let each region make a decision,” noted Aiello. “It seems to me that no one wanted to make a decision. I guess the only positive out of this is someone finally made a decision, it’s just not the decision we were looking for.

“it’s tough as a coach because the kids are coming to you looking for answers, and we just don’t have them,” added Aiello.

Miller also notes there was more support in Section IV for spring football than you might think.

 “Recently, there were a lot of schools that wanted to play (football) in the spring, so a lot of people are happy right now.”

Aiello and Miller agree the ones getting the short end of the stick are the student-athletes.

“It’s really too bad,” said Aiello. “I think the thing people are really missing out on is the impact this is going to have on kids. Speaking about our school, a lot of kids put a lot of work, and a lot of pride into their athletics. It’s something they look forward to.

“The fact they’ve been put through the ringer the last two weeks … there were some very high hopes of getting back to normal, and now all of the sudden we’re shut down again,” noted Aiello. “I think it’s sad to be messing with kids’ emotions like that.”

“There are kids in our school, and I’m sure in every school, that need athletics as an extra incentive to come to school every day,” said Miller. “We have our work cut out for us in our (school) district to get kids excited to come into the building with all the changes that exist on a day-to-day basis.

“Unfortunately, there are going to be kids who say ‘if I don’t have (sports), then school’s just not that important to me’ — that’s just the reality of it,” added Miller. “We’re going to have to work hard to change that mind-set.”

Looking ahead, Miller said if they play football in the spring, it will look a great deal different than anything we’ve seen before.

“it’s going to be a strange schedule, a brief schedule — five or six games at most,” said Miller. “I don’t know how you could squeeze in more … you start March 1 and need 12 practices before you can play a game.

“You’re not leaving much time to play games if you have to be done by May 1,” noted Miller. “Obviously, it’s going to be abbreviated if you’re going to get all the sports in, in that time.

“It’s frustrating,” added Miller. “We have kids a mile away playing Friday night, and our kids can’t.”


IN PHOTO: Jason Miller (left) and Nick Aiello. … VSR STOCK PHOTOS.

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