ALBANY, N.Y. – If and when high-school sports resume in New York, some will be played under new rules.

Last week, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association approved several changes for the 2020-21 season, affecting the way sports like wrestling, field hockey, and ice hockey will be played this upcoming year.

WRESTLING

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Perhaps the biggest changes are modifications to wrestling weight classes:

Old / New

  • 99, 106 / 102
  • 113 / 110
  • 120 / 118
  • 126 /126
  • 132 /132
  • 138 /138
  • 145 / 145
  • 152 /152
  • 160 / 160
  • 170 / 172
  • 182, 195 / 189
  • 220 / 215
  • 285 / 285

With schools struggling to find enough wrestlers, the elimination of two weight classes, particularly the 99-pound division, makes it less likely that matches will result in forfeits, wrote Marty Sherman, NYSPHAA wrestling chairman, in his rationale for making the changes.

“By recommending these weight classes, it will [allow] schools with smaller rosters to compete in dual meets and bring back the competitiveness and focus of our dual meets,” Sherman wrote.

In 2019-20, there were 719 athletes across that state who competed in the 99-pound weight class. Of those 719 student-athletes, 532 were seventh, eighth, and ninth graders.

“Students in these grades typically are JV athletes in most sports,” Sherman wrote.

Students who do not make the starting lineup for the varsity dual meet can participate in a JV dual match or an exhibition match on the day of the varsity match, he added. “These students will still have the ability to participate at some level of competition.”

FIELD HOCKEY

Lopsided field-hockey games will be a little more merciful to teams on the losing end, thanks to a rule change that will allow the game clock to continue to run when there is a five-goal difference.

“Revising this rule will allow for lopsided games to provide student-athletes the opportunity to play while also keeping the game moving,” wrote Bev Hooper, NYSPHSAA field hockey coordinator.

BASEBALL

Looking to ease young pitchers into heavier workloads, the state has also modified its maximum pitch counts.

Previously, varsity pitchers on four nights rest could throw up to 105 pitches at any point in the regular season. Once postseason began, they could throw up to 125 pitches.

Instead, pitchers will start the season in March only able to throw a maximum of 85 pitches. In April, they can ramp up to 105 pitches. And in May, they can max out at 125.

Al Roy, NYSPHSAA baseball coordinator, said allowing pitchers to have their first taste of 125 pitches starting in the postseason did not make sense.

“Currently, the first opportunity for pitchers to reach the max pitch count of 125 is during a sectional postseason tournament game when their team’s season is on the line,” Roy wrote. “By creating a transitional period during the regular season, it would take into account both the physical and mental health and well-being of pitchers by providing the opportunity to increase their workload over time up to the max pitch count of 125 in a regular-season game setting.”

Maximum Pitch Counts

March

  • 76-85 (4 nights rest)
  • 46-75 (3 nights rest)
  • 31-45 (2 nights rest)
  • 1-30 (1 night rest)

April

  • 96-105 (4 nights rest)
  • 66-95 (3 nights rest)
  • 31-65 (2 nights rest)
  • 1-30 (1 night rest)

May

  • 103-125 (4 nights rest)
  • 72-102 (3 nights rest)
  • 41-71 (2 nights rest)
  • 1-40 (1 night rest)

ICE HOCKEY

Beginning this year, ice-hockey periods will go from 15 minutes to 17 minutes. The length of penalty times are also being adjusted accordingly, with minors going to 2 minutes (from 1.5 minutes), majors going to 5 minutes (from 4 minutes), and misconducts going to 10 minutes (from 7.5 minutes).

The longer periods puts New York on par with the rest of the country, wrote Scott Stuart, NYSPHSAA ice-hockey coordinator.

“The extra time would translate to roughly six more ‘shifts’ in each game allowing more participation,” Stuart wrote. “The additional penalty time would make penalty calls a bit more meaningful and would make coaches and players pay closer attention to this aspect of the game.”

It is one of the few proposed rule changes that could have a financial impact. With teams now playing 6 additional minutes, schools may have to reserve more ice time.

The full list of rule changes can be found on nysphsaa.org.