Section 1 Should Reconsider, Allow Mom, Pop on Visiting Campuses

So it was over 30 years ago when, as a budding cub reporter (Ha!) at the now defunct North County News, I coined the acronym A.B.G., which stood for #AnybodyButGreeley (pre hashtags), which I now regret due to my malfeasance as a small fish in an even tinier pond.

Remember, I was pandering to the Yorktown/Lakeland/Somers crowd at the time. And a lot of it had to do with the beatdowns the Quakers had put on my Lakeland Hornets in the wee ‘80s, including the time Colgate-bound and ninth-round Steelers draft pick Rich Erenberg handed me my first concussion-like symptoms on the grid, along with the 100-plus points Greeley put on us on the hardwood that winter in a 104-44 Quaker triumph. The A.B.G. deal was deep in roots because we simply couldn’t touch the Quakers my senior year.

Whatever it was, I had my unobjective, personal reasons for being upset with the Quakers back in the day. But it sure as heck felt good to be at Horace Greeley last Saturday when the Quakers hosted neighboring Byram Hills on the soccer pitch after seven months of inactivity due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has kept the state’s student athletes on the sidelines since last March.

The last Section 1 sports event prior to Greeley-Byram Hills soccer – a 3-0 Bobcats win – was Putnam Valley’s 66-49 New York State regional win over Section 9 champion Marlboro in the girls’ basketball tournament way back on Mar. 12, when Tiger freshman Eva DeChent wowed a near-empty gym (no fans were allowed) by draining a career-high 39 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and four steals.

Who knew that would be the last time we would see a Section 1 team compete in any way, shape or form when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization told us it would take two weeks to flatten the curve and get hospitals back in order in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus (as if!)? I feel like politics have played a major part in all of this, including the lockdowns, which the WHO has now backflipped on, calling for world leaders to stop locking down their countries and economies just last week.

More than 200 days since the pandemic struck, we still don’t have a firm grip on the situation, which is why I checked the Section 1 BOCES athletics website right up until I got in my car last Saturday, expecting the worst and hoping for the best.

“Obviously, it’s great to be back on the field, especially after having been off from playing soccer and being stuck at home quarantining for months,” Byram Hills senior Kalden Harp said.

As the “Fall I” sports campaign began this week, nearly half the games originally scheduled for Saturday were canceled due to a variety of reasons, including canceled practices that led to unsuitable practice time and COVID-related school closures.

“We’ve gotten used to the masks and I think being in school since Sept. 1 certainly helped here in Byram Hills,” Bobcat Coach Matty Allen said. “We’ve talked a lot about the distractions just to get the kids ready for it. I have to give the boys credit; they rose to occasion.”

Additionally, there is a dark cloud hovering over our winter season, which is scheduled to start in a month, due to the fact that all basketball, track and field and wrestling events take place indoors and the concerns around the recent spikes in coronavirus in several nearby counties and cities. We’re all holding out hope for a winter session, including our school boards and administrators, but nobody wants to come on the record regarding the impending doom.

“We’re very concerned about the winter sports and the prospect of competing indoors,” one local athletic director said, perhaps speaking for the majority. “I’m very worried.”

Yeah, it could be a long winter if varsity high school sports are put on hold again in one month, which is why I was so thrilled to be out and about in Hillary’s ’hood last Saturday. The sad part is I was almost alone out there, and Lady Hillary was nowhere to be found. There were very few fans in orange and blue, and visiting parents are prohibited by Section 1 from attending all Section 1-sanctioned sports, which is simply overkill if you ask me. I get that student sections like Yorktown’s #Crop and the #MahopacManiacs are barred from gathering en masse, that’s another story.

I’ve been in and about towns all over Westchester and Putnam counties since mid-June when summer travel baseball leagues opened up, and there were no spikes in COVID-19 anywhere throughout these regions.

I get it, school districts fear lawsuits should someone contract the virus on school grounds. But there’s plenty of space for the Momma and Poppa Bobcat to visit Greeley and pop by campuses across the section, so long as they wear face coverings and socially distance. Let parents and families make the decision to either see Junior play in person or stay at home and watch on Kevin Devaney’s Local Live network (shameless plug for my boy K.D.). We can’t live in this kind of fear.

I mean, masks either work or they don’t, so put one on, keep your distance, wash your hands often and go about life. At the very least we should allow Mom and Pop to watch their kids in person – as visitors – and drive them home if need be.

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