Game On?

Many things have been put on hold or delayed because of COVID-19. One of the things that can be added to the list is the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class AA Far West regional game that was supposed to be played this past Saturday. McQuaid Jesuit High School in Rochester was supposed to play Bennett High School in Buffalo, but the game was postponed right before kickoff because of positive COVID-19 test results on the McQuaid team and coaching staff. The first McQuaid player tested positive on November 15th, and then more players tested positive in the following days. The game was then rescheduled to today, Tuesday, November 23, 2021, at 6pm at Williamsville South. Erie County health officials ruled that only vaccinated McQuaid players could play in the regional game on Tuesday. Once a player or coach tests positive for COVID-19 a 72-hour pause is put into place where no team activities can take place. During this 72 hour period players and coaches were tested at the request of Erie County health officials. According to the lawsuit, McQuaid had enough eligible players to play on Saturday. The eligible players had tested negative for COVID-19 for three days in a row. The team then practiced on Friday afternoon once the 72 hour period was over.

McQuaid was upset with the Erie County Health Department because they were only allowing vaccinated players from McQuaid to play, but were allowing Bennett players to play regardless of vaccination status.

Then McQuaid filed a lawsuit and got a judge to temporarily block the county’s vaccination requirement. State Supreme Court Justice Mark Montour on Saturday issued a temporary restraining order blocking the county from restricting McQuaid’s participation only to vaccinated players.

On Saturday night, Section VI stated that it believed the game should be ruled as a forfeit and that Bennett should advance to the state semifinals. Section VI explained that the NYSPHSAA rules don’t allow for rescheduling of postseason games. The section further went on to state that McQuaid should have played with its available/healthy players.

Today, State Supreme Court Justice Emilio Colaiacovo stated in a hearing that the issue was “moot” or an issue that does not present a real controversy. According to NYSPHSAA executive director Robert Zayas , “The game will be played tonight as scheduled.” When asked “Do you have a problem with that?” Zayas responded by stating, “We are simply concerned about the precedent this could establish as we move to our winter sports season and ultimately our spring sports season. We are learning everyday from this pandemic and how our schools are going to adjust to it. Most importantly, the students are going to be able to decide this game on the field as it should be decided.”

Today during the hearing, Erie County Attorney Jeremy Toth stated that all the players who were deemed a close contact as of November 15th have tested out of quarantine and can play in the game tonight. Toth went on to specify that the students are able to play tonight not because of the lawsuit, but because of the current guidelines in Erie County.

On Monday, no other McQuaid players tested positive for COVID-19.

It will be interesting to see now that a court ruling has been made if Section VI officials will petition the state to rule the game as a forfeit or if the game will be played tonight.

Sources:

https://buffalonews.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/bennett-and-mcquaid-to-play-high-school-playoff-game-tonight/article_343690f4-4c62-11ec-b207-9796627e4596.html#tracking-source=home-top-story-1

Photo Credit: Robert Kirkham

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