NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As COVID restrictions ease, it’s starting to feel like things are almost back to normal, but that’s not the case for some high school athletes.

Cardozo High School is preparing for a new, pandemic-shortened season.

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The team is in good hands. Head coach Ron Naclerio is the winningest high school basketball coach in New York state history.

In his 40 years at Cardozo, he’s seen a lot, but he never saw this coming.

“Not being in the gym is mind-boggling,” he told CBS2’s Nick Caloway.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

The city and its health officials decided that high-risk indoor sports like basketball had to be played outside to minimize the risk of COVID.

That creates other risks for players.

They play on concrete courts instead of hardwood, and coaches can’t guarantee safety in a public park.

Not to mention the weather.

“I’m going to have a high school basketball game rained out because it’s supposed to rain Saturday,” Naclerio said.

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After watching huge crowds cheer on the Knicks in the playoffs, parents wonder: why the double standard?

“You see 15,000 people at MSG last night. Which is fine, it’s exciting. You see them next to each other with no mask. Yet here, you can’t have, you know, ten kids play indoors?” father Chris Mousios said.

CBS2 asked City Hall why basketball is safe in Madison Square Garden, but not in a high school gym.

Someone with the New York City department of health responded with a single sentence that said they are monitoring the situation and “our guidance is determined by the science.”

COVID VACCINE

Cardozo players CBS2 asked would rather be back in the gym, but after the last year, they’re just happy to be playing at all.

“I’d rather be indoors, but we’ll take what we can get at this point,” junior Yianni Mousios said.

“Yeah, it is challenging, but that’s what makes us better,” junior Kevin Trujillo said.

Some teams opted out of the season altogether because of those safety concerns with playing outside.

Naclerio is urging Mayor Bill de Blasio to change the policy right away.

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CBS2’s Nick Caloway contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team