Some youth sports teams face scrutiny as COVID cases increase |

Some youth sports teams face scrutiny as COVID cases increase

Charles Molineaux
Updated: November 10, 2020 11:43 PM
Created: November 10, 2020 10:46 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — As Monroe County faces more restrictions to fight coronavirus, sports teams like local hockey leagues are trying to figure out what they’ll have to change.

Some of them are facing scrutiny for skirting around the rules by ducking out of state.

“It would be nice if we knew, ‘if we do these five things it's a safe environment,’” says hockey dad Dave Morgan.  

Morgan says he tries to play it safe for his 11-year-old son Ben, who plays Rochester Coalition hockey. That also applies when he plays adult hockey himself, but that he understands it's a tradeoff.  And for some families, it's worth it to leave the state for competitions.

"The teams that still want to go play games, they are going to go out and go to out of state. They will play in a tournament and then they will come back rinse and repeat."

Under Governor Andrew Cuomo's COVID rules, hockey is considered "high risk’" in New York, so while practices are allowed, games are not.  

That has prompted some teams to cross into neighboring states for contests.  Regional COVID reopening Czar Bob Duffy says some parents are passionate and, he hopes, careful.  

“I think a lot of it is just making sure you follow the rules when you come back and make sure you're safe,” Duffy explained.  “But I've heard no talk about a sanction against a youth sports team, as of now."

With the Rochester now considered a coronavirus "yellow zone," groups like the Rochester Junior Amerks met Tuesday night to figure out their next move with their partners, the skating rinks.  

The latest guidance from the state Amateur Hockey Association reiterates that traveling to play is not allowed by New York, even though it is allowed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and Duffy says teams who avoid the rules may need a closer look.  

"If it got to a point where it was serious,” he said, “if there was a spread, I would think the county and the state, maybe several counties, would reach out to whoever the organizing authority is for that league and cooperation to either curtail or make sure the rules are followed."

Dave Morgan says rules against games in-state may actually be counterproductive, increasing the risk of spreading COVID by chasing teams across the state line. 

“It probably makes more sense to be playing other states that are from that same region,” he says. “Rather than going out of state and really experiencing teams from other states that have higher transmission rates and bringing coronavirus back to the finger Lakes region or Monroe county.”

For his part, Morgan and his son are not traveling and his own adult hockey team chose to forfeit its latest game, given Monroe county’s new status as a “yellow zone.”

“You kind of have to [have] Personal responsibility…” he says. “Make the right decisions. And choose what you’ve got to do. “

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