Lawsuit against Nassau’s high school sports postponement dismissed by judge

Robert Pelaez
A judge dismissed the lawsuit against Nassau County and the decision to suspend high school sports for the remainder of the calendar year. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

A Nassau County Supreme Cout Judge dismissed a lawsuit set forth by the Massapequa School District over the cancellation of sports for the remainder of the calendar year due to the coronavirus pandemic last week.

Justice Jack L. Libert ruled that Section VIII, which oversees high school athletics throughout the county, “acted within the lawful scope of its authority” when they decided to postpone high school sports until 2021 last month, according to Newsday.

Section VIII Executive Director told Newsday that the organization’s main priority remains the health and safety of student-athletes throughout Nassau County.

“We’re still learning things about this disease,” Pizzarelli told Newsday. “Numbers are going up in a lot of places. Protecting the health of the kids has to be the priority.”

The proposed condensed sports seasons for 2021 would be running winter sports from Jan. 4 to March 13, running fall sports from Marc 1 to May 8, and running spring sports from April 5 to June 12.

The council of superintendents voted 7-0 to postpone high school sports until the end of the calendar year, with the intention of condensing all three sports seasons between January and June back in August.

Pizzarrelli agreed with the initial decision to pause sports for the remainder of 2020.

“It’s just not the time to allow kids to play sports,” Pizzarelli said. “We are still learning about this virus and its effects, short- and long-term. The science behind it continues to uncover scary truths, especially the potential for heart ailments and long-term heart damage for kids.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a week before the decision that he would permit “lower-risk” high school sports to be played. Those included cross-country running, soccer, tennis, swimming and field hockey.

“These are all value judgments that we are making and the balance of the judgment is always the same: Increase the activity to the rate of normalcy as quick as possible,” Cuomo said on Aug. 26. “… on the other side of the scale, don’t let the infection rate get above 1% and keep the virus at a manageable level. That has always been the balance.”

Cuomo said full-contact sports such as football, wrestling and rugby were considered too high-risk to be played at this time, along with volleyball, according to the governor’s website.

Jericho’s superintendent of schools, Hank Grishman, said the unknown risks that the virus presents take precedence over high school sports being played in 2020.

“This decision comes from an abundance of caution and health and safety for our students,” Grishman said. “No matter what procedures are put in place, it’s just not safe to return to sports. There are still too many unknowns with the virus. In my 50-year career in education, nothing holds a candle to this. It’s all a bad dream.”

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has touted the importance of sports for young people and said she will continue to advocate for a return to sports that prioritizes the safety and well-being of all affected stakeholders.

“Since we’ve reopened I’ve strongly advocated for the resumption of organized sports because of its importance to the health and well-being of our youth,” Curran said last month. “I’ll continue to communicate with all stakeholders to work towards a sensible solution that puts safety first.”

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