PHILADELPHIA - A day after Governor Tom Wolf recommended postponing school sports until January 2021, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) doubled down on its belief that sports can resume safely and called on state reps to join their effort.
The association, which oversees both junior high and high school sports, said Friday that the governor's recommendation has a "potential negative impact on student's physical, social, emotional and mental health." A PIAA spokesperson also pointed out the financial inability for student-athletes to participate in league sports outside of school.
The board of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association said mandatory fall sports activities are on hold until its next meeting on Aug. 21. The association hopes to use that time to discuss the matter further with Gov. Tom Wolf. Voluntary workouts can continue in the meantime.
The board issued a statement that said it wanted Wolf and agencies under him “to partner with us and work collaboratively to further discuss fall sports,” and hoped for “insight and discussion” from state lawmakers.
The recommendation from Wolf’s Health and Education departments applies to individual and team sports, both school-related and other recreational leagues, and to games and scrimmages. It does not apply to college and pro sports.
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“The administration is providing this strong recommendation and not an order or mandate,” Wolf’s news release said. “As with deciding whether students should return to in-person classes, remote learning or a blend of the two this fall, school administrators and locally elected school boards should make decisions on sports.”
The PIAA extended an offer to Gov. Wolf and state health officials to work collaboratively with the association to further discuss health and safety initiatives.
"It's clear to the PIAA, the unintended consequences of canceling fall sports need to be further reviewed," a press release read.
The association's Sports Medicine Advisory Committee says that based on current information, it believes strict adherence to school and state adopted plans will provide "a reasonably safe environment for student-athletes."
The PIAA recently introduced mitigation measures, which include the option to modify season schedules and start times.
Under the current guidelines, athletes and coaches must follow daily health screenings; high fives, fist bumps and hugs are prohibited.
If an athlete or coach tests positive for the coronavirus, the entire team is required to quarantine for two weeks, per CDC and Department of Health recommendations.
Following orders previously handed down by the governor's office, the PIAA is not allowing family members, friends, or spectators to attend pre-K-12 sporting events. Associate Executive Director of PIAA Melissa Mertz has previously said she is hopeful Wolf will eventually allow spectators to attend.
The PIAA has also said it's not forcing schools to commence fall sports. Norristown School district has already decided not to proceed with their fall sports seasons.
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