OSWEGO — Saying that the health and safety of students is a top priority for the Oswego City School District, district officials announced Thursday in a press release that the decision has been made to suspend the 2019 varsity football season.

District officials emphasized that the decision was not taken lightly, and said health and safety factors had been carefully monitored throughout the past several years. With a dwindling number of players since 2016, the district does not have the number of players needed for a healthy roster, officials said. With current numbers in the teens, officials said they would not take any risks of injury by having the student-athletes play both offense and defense out of necessity.

That factor, coupled with the potential increased risk of concussions, weighed heavily in the decision, according to district officials. They cited research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which states that an estimated 15 percent of high school students experienced one or more concussions in 2017. Being proactive to prevent injury is the best, and most appropriate, course of action, OCSD officials said.

The decision is fully supported by the school district physician, who agreed that the number of players alone is “not safely sustainable for a football team this year.”

The press release said an alternate plan is in place for the students who wish to remain engaged in athletics with their coaches. This does not reflect any changes with the current modified football season, as that remains viable, the release stated.

The release closed by saying that the Oswego City School District will continue to remain focused on the health and safety of all athletes and students.

Oswego had been scheduled to open its 2019 varsity season on Saturday at Westmoreland.

The Bucs played in the Developmental League in 2018. They finished with a record of 0-9.

Oswego competed within Section III Class A in 2017 and had a record of 0-8, including one forfeit. The school did not field a varsity team in 2016, and finished 0-8 in 2015. Oswego’s last varsity football victory came in the 2014 season, when the Bucs finished with a 4-5 record.

“The plan has been shared with those athletes and the decision was based on the health and safety for those student athletes,” said Rhonda Bullard, OCSD athletic director. “(It had) nothing to do with wins or losses.”

Oswego’s decision to suspend its 2019 season will affect other teams in the Developmental League. The Bucs were scheduled to meet Fulton on Oct. 4, and had two games slated against Phoenix. Both Fulton and Phoenix are playing in the Developmental League this year. 

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