Youth sports to resume at public schools, Catholic sports league demand more

youth sports
The PSAL MPL Baseball Championship between International Community High School and Claremont International High School.
File photo by PSLA

Brooklyn’s public school children will soon hit the fields for youth sports, after city health officials green-lit a return to all outdoor activities, as well as lower-risk indoor sports — but Catholic school leaders are calling for the resumption of all competition, including higher-risk indoor sports, citing their lack of outside space. 

“We would find it difficult to move outdoors,” said Dominick Vulpis, executive director of the Catholic High School Athletic Association, “because we don’t have the resources that [Public Schools Athletic League] has.” 

All school sports can begin strength and conditioning in April, and competitive play can resume in May — although “higher risk” sports can only be played outside, while lower-risk activities can head indoors, according to a Department of Education spokesperson.  

“We are truly excited to bring back PSAL in April and for the first time, extend the season through the end of this summer with a strong focus on health and safety,” said Nathaniel Styer. “This is an important step towards bringing back a sense of normalcy to our young people.”

But Vulpis said they’ve been left guessing about indoor, higher-risk sports. 

“They specifically only talk about high-risk sports outdoors,” said Vulpis, “but aren’t addressing the other high-risk sports indoors.” 

The school’s sports director told Brooklyn Paper that the organization plans to go ahead with their outdoor high-risk sports like lacrosse and football, but they’re asking health honchos to offer guidelines for indoor, high-risk sports as soon as possible. 

The Catholic athletic association announced Thursday night that its football program will commence on the weekend of April 17. Practices for outdoor, high-risk sports at city Catholic schools will resume on April 5.

“We are going to go along with that guidance and start our outdoor, high-risk sports at that time,” Vulpis said. “Which would be football and boys lacrosse.” 

On top of the lack of outdoor space that many Catholic schools face, those schools’ facilities have been open since September, and their student-athletes have been participating in low- and moderate-risk sports, unlike public schools. Therefore, Vulpis argued, they are more prepared to resume indoor sports — as many jurisdictions in the state have, since Gov. Andrew Cuomo relinquished that decision-making to local health departments on Feb. 1.

“We are hoping that the guidelines will reflect the New York State guidelines, which is all high-risk sports are being played at this time,” Vulpis said. “Regardless of indoor or outdoor.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced high school sports would soon begin in a March 8 press conference with Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter, and shared they would be extending the sports season until August — meant to catch up sports that were passed over during the pandemic. 

“We’re going to go all the way to August to give kids who have missed out on sports a chance to catch up and have a much better experience,” de Blasio said. 

Resuming sports is strictly for the betterment of the student participants, the mayor said during his announcement, and audiences will not be permitted at games until later notice.