Protect yourself, protect others, protect the season.
That is the motto adopted by the PIAA during incredibly uncertain times pertaining to scholastic sports. The PIAA announced during its board of directors meeting on Wednesday that it is moving forward with its fall season as scheduled. In a Zoom meeting that lasted well over two hours, executive director Bob Lombardi outlined some of the changes, guidelines and restrictions that were adopted by a 29-3 vote. Those mechanisms were put in place in hopes of beginning – and possibly even finishing – a fall season in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
Starting date options and scheduling flexibility have been extended to high schools and their respective districts as the PIAA is making every effort to get a season in the books. The hurdles are not few, and they will not easily be cleared, but the effort is being made to provide a safe environment for athletes to play this fall.
Some will contend that no sports should be played; others will say it should be game-on and don’t look back. Ultimately, the hammer is being held by no one from the PIAA headquarters in Mechanicsburg, rather a certain gentleman who resides in Harrisburg.
The PIAA is being proactive which is the proper way to proceed. Why get caught flat-footed if the light remains green? Preparing for a season and adjusting to restrictions, should they be handed down, gives high school athletes a shot. And they deserve at least that.
NO FANS IS NOT
A PIAA CALL
The ire was understandable when folks flocked to social media to vent about the confirmation that, as of now, no fans will be permitted to attend scholastic sporting events in the fall.
But the PIAA is not responsible for this guideline.
That was made clear on Wednesday, and again Thursday when the PIAA posted this statement on its website: ‘PIAA has received many inquiries regarding the ability of spectators to attend school athletic events. This is not a PIAA decision. PIAA is following the sports guidance put out by the Wolf Administration.’
The public document containing information for Pre-K to 12 School Sports can be found at www.governor.pa.gov/covid-19/sports-guidance/.
“It’s out of our hands right now,” said Lombardi during Wednesday’s Zoom meeting. “It’s 250 for outside, 25 for inside (for participants). We’re working diligently to get that 25 softened a little bit for some of our sports, especially in the immediate fall. (For volleyball and water polo) it’s every difficult to play with 25.”
LOST GAMES ARE NOT AUTOMATIC LOSSES
It was revealed on Wednesday that any team having a player test positive for COVID must quarantine for 10-14 days, per current Center for Disease Control guidelines. The knee-jerk reaction would be to assume that team must forfeit all games during the quarantine period, essentially losing a large chunk of its season and any realistic shot of making the postseason.
Not so, said Lombardi.
Teams in that situation can work with their respective district chairmen and possibly have those contests declared non-games, which can be re-scheduled. Instead of automatic losses, those games in question can be recaptured and a season salvaged.
Should teams find themselves short of fulfilling their schedule at the regular season deadline, a new option is available. The PIAA said non-playoff teams may play such games against other non-playoff teams during and until the end of the postseason.
RECREATION LEAGUES IN FULL SWING, SO WHY NOT SCHOOL SPORTS?
Lombardi made a point of noting rec leagues are taking place under guidelines that are less restrictive than those set forth by the PIAA or school districts. With that in mind, playing scholastic sports should be safer than summer leagues.
“You know as well as I do, there’s recreational programs going on every day of the week all over this commonwealth,” he said. “We believe that our coaches and schools, with their health and safety plan, are providing a safer environment.”