PIAA set to weigh in on Gov. Wolf’s recommendation today
The waiting continues for Pennsylvania high school sports.
On Thursday morning, Gov. Tom Wolf said his office’s recommendation is that there be no youth or high school sports until Jan. 1, 2021.
States across the country have been making difficult decisions all summer long with regard to high schools returning in the fall and in mid-July, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association said Pennsylvania would be playing in the fall unless otherwise directed by the governor.
It remains to be seen if Thursday’s announcement will affect PIAA’s guidance.
The group held an emergency meeting later Thursday to discuss Wolf’s directive and just after 4 p.m. sent out a Tweet stating: “Today Governor Wolf issued a statement of strongly recommending no interscholastic and recreational sports until January 1. We are tremendously disappointed in this decision. Our member schools have worked diligently to develop health and safety plans to allow students the safe return o interscholastic athletics.”
The PIAA added that its Board of Directors would meet this afternoon to review the action and release an official statement following the meeting.
“I know there is a lot of information and discussion being generated by the Governor’s statements about athletics today. I also know there is a considerable amount of frustration around the inconsistent information regarding cheer, band and ability for parents to attend athletic events,” Warren County School District Superintendent Amy Stewart said in a statement shared on Twitter. ” … In an effort to be perfectly clear, at this time, the District has not canceled any athletic events. We have worked hard to make sure we are providing opportunities for our students to participate in the activities they love. We will have to see what PIAA shares (today). Stay tuned.”
While Thursday’s announcement was not necessarily unexpected, it was still disappointing to those involved in high school athletics.
“Every coach had gone into this fall season knowing there was a very good chance of a season not happening,” said Jeremy Bickling, Warren girls soccer coach. “It’s certainly not something we want to go through, but it’s not unexpected to have this conversation come up.”
The Dragons went 15-5-1 last fall, winning a District 10 championship before losing to Mars in the PIAA playoffs.
“It’s super tough, especially for a program like ours. Everybody has invested time to build toward our goals — being District 10 champs and setting a three-year goal to compete for a state title,” Bickling said. “This disrupts those goals. It doesn’t stop them, but it certainly sets us back.”
As with last spring’s cancellations, possibly losing a season would affect seniors the most in their final year of high school.
“We have three seniors this fall and they are players that I’ve spent so much time with,” Bickling said. You want to see them fulfill the work they’ve put in, especially the ones with interest and the ability to play at the next level.”
As of Thursday, 35 states were listed on the National Federation of State High School Associations as having high school seasons delayed or altered due to the pandemic.
A few examples:
¯ New York has put off the first day of practice until at least Sept. 21
¯ California won’t start high school sports until December or January
¯ Delaware has moved the start of fall sports to Feb. 19, after its winter season start of Dec. 14
¯ Illinois has moved boys soccer, football and girls volleyball to the spring of 2021
¯ Maryland has postponed fall and winter competitions for the first semester of the school year
¯ Oregon will start basketball, swimming and diving, and wrestling Dec. 28 followed by football, soccer, volleyball and cross country on Feb. 22
With regard to just football, the following states will not play this fall: California, Colorado, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Virginia and Washington.
On July 29, PIAA released guidance for alternate start dates to the fall schedule that went as late as Oct. 5. While Pennsylvania’s governing body hasn’t specifically mentioned drastically changing its seasons to start fall sports some time later in 2021, Bickling for one hopes it is at least considered.
“I hope, worst-case scenario is to consider a spring season for fall sports,” he said. “I know that creates complications, but there are players who need to play their sports and finish out their careers. I think if those opportunities can be made with more of the school year remaining, that should be considered.”