High school athletes ask for spring season to be played in summer
Two New Jersey student athletes have launched online petitions asking the NJSIAA to consider extending the spring sports season into summer.
The coronavirus public health crisis led Gov. Phil Murphy to close all public and private schools in New Jersey indefinitely. Most districts are conducting online lessons for students in order to get in the required 180-day school year but student athletic are sidelined by the order.
The NJSIAA, the scholastic sports governing body in the state, reiterated its policy prohibiting team practice, scrimmages or games during the shutdown, including those organized by a student. It has not determined how a spring season would be played when school reopens or how current timelines and procedures would be adjusted.
Freehold Borough High School senior Sean Wodell, a member of the varsity baseball team, and Lauren Mistkowski, a senior on the West Morris Central High School softball team, have each started online petitions in hopes of getting the NJSIAA to consider playing the spring season in the summer.
"This is the last year of baseball that most seniors will be able to play, and for all the last year they will represent their town, their school, and be able to play with the teammates they've grown up with," Wodell wrote on his petition. "Football programs are able to practice in the summer months, weeks before anyone begins to even think about school, so why shouldn't baseball be able to do the same."
Mistkowski wrote on her petition that she will not be playing in college.
"For many, this is not only the last time that they will play for their school, but play the sport in general," Mistkowski wrote.
The Morristown Daily Record was first to report on the petitions.
There is no clear indication when schools will reopen. Murphy at one of his daily COVID-19 briefings this week said the decision is his alone.
"We will not be prepared to revisit the closure until at least April 17 at the very earliest," Murphy said on Thursday. "The decision to reopen will be based on careful discussion with our public health and safety experts and with our educators and districts, and will be guided by the facts on the ground."
The idea of playing in the summer does not look realistic based on a state law that states that a school year begins on July 1 and ends on June 30.
"I see no exception to this under any circumstances as the students will have already graduated by then," Kevin Williams, a journalist with the Shore Sports Network, said. "It’s looking more and more likely that schools will not reopen the spring so I see no path for any kind of spring sports season."
The NJSIAA did not immediately return a request for comment on Saturday morning.